Today, I will hold a town hall in Salem, N.H. But I’ll start by discussing another town, just a few miles to the south. Lawrence, Mass., isn’t a place most people know. But for anyone in New England who has lost a loved one to fentanyl, there’s a good chance Lawrence played a painful role.
Lawrence is like a lot of towns in the region. The factories closed a long time ago. Then a new kind of business sprang up: the kind that traffics illegal drugs. In 2018, law enforcement in New Hampshire traced a drug bust to Lawrence, leading to 45 indictments and the seizure of 30 kilograms of fentanyl. It was their largest drug bust at the time. Yet the flow of dangerous and illegal drugs kept coming. No wonder: Lawrence is a sanctuary city that blocks federal immigration law enforcement from doing its job.
New Hampshire families are reeling from fentanyl. More than 400 people have died from drug overdoses in New Hampshire almost every year for the past decade. In 2022, that number was 434 people — and two-thirds died from fentanyl. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s far from over. Many more men, women, and children have been exposed to this deadly drug. Even now, dealers are peddling it across the state.
So many people I’ve talked to in New Hampshire know someone who died from a fentanyl overdose. And every single one of them knows that if we want to save more mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters from this horrible fate, we have to get the southern border under control.
The fentanyl that goes through towns such as Lawrence into states such as New Hampshire overwhelmingly comes from China and Mexico. Chemicals are manufactured in China, then sent to Mexico. Mexico mass-produces liquid fentanyl and fentanyl powder that’s mixed into fake prescription drugs. Drug cartels push fentanyl across the border and sell their goods to drug traffickers. From there, it makes its way to our families and friends.
This is a massive crisis. In 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized 50.6 million fentanyl pills and more than 10,500 pounds of fentanyl powder. That’s enough to kill every American.
But that’s just what we caught. Huge amounts of fentanyl still made it across the border. It claimed the lives of up to 70,000 Americans in 2021 — a record, and up from almost zero a decade earlier. When the numbers for 2022 come out, the death toll may be even higher. It’s not just Salem: From the biggest cities to the smallest towns, dealers are killing more and more Americans with drugs from Mexico and China.
Securing the border is the first and most important step toward ending this crisis. Yet the one person who can do the most to help is actively making things so much worse. President Joe Biden has spent two-plus years in office ignoring the border and undermining proven efforts to stop the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants. He has abandoned his duty to protect Americans, from Salem to San Diego to everywhere in between.
The list of Biden’s offenses is depressingly long. He brought back the disastrous “catch and release” policy that lets drug runners go free after illegally crossing the border. He’s tried to end “Title 42” and ended “Remain in Mexico,” making it easier for people carrying drugs to get into America and stay here. Biden still refuses to crack down on “sanctuary cities” such as Lawrence.
Biden doesn’t seem to know how bad things are at the border. That makes sense, considering it took him nearly two years to go there, even as tens of thousands of Americans died. As president, I will focus on securing the border — and saving Americans’ lives — from Day One.
Here’s how: I will recruit and hire new Border Patrol and ICE workers to stop the flow of drugs and illegal immigration. I’ll restart Remain in Mexico and keep Title 42, while ending catch-and-release once and for all. I’ll end sanctuary cities, so that if we don’t stop drug runners at the border, we will stop them in places such as Lawrence. More broadly, I’ll crack down on illegal immigration by instituting a national E-Verify program — like I did as South Carolina’s governor — and end taxpayer-funded handouts to illegal immigrants. Illegal drug-running and illegal immigration go hand in hand, so I’ll tackle this crisis from every angle.
While securing the border is the first step to ending the fentanyl crisis, the first step to securing the border is ending Joe Biden’s presidency. I will do that, too, so our families are finally safe from the scourge of fentanyl. The good people of New Hampshire are counting on it. So is every American.