Tommy Tuberville introduces amendment to secure the border and stop the flow of fentanyl

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Tommy Tuberville on the Senate floor

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) introduced the Border Safety and Security Act as an amendment to the SUPPORT Act. Tuberville said that it is impossible to address the drug overdose problem in the United States without addressing border security. Tuberville claimed that this legislation is needed to address the opioid crisis until the southern border is secure. HELP Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) opposed the amendment, effectively blocking it from consideration.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss an issue that I believe is directly related to everything we’ve talked about in here,” said Sen. Tuberville in the hearing. “I believe it’s impossible to discuss our nation’s opioid epidemic without discussing the crisis at the southern border. You know, back in March, I introduced the Border Safety and Security Act. This legislation requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend the entry of illegal immigrants into the United States until we have control of our border again – because we’ve lost it. 6.5 million illegal immigrants have been apprehended by the [Customs & Border Protection] since January 2021. In fiscal year 2023 alone, CBP seized 1,000 pounds of fentanyl at the border. Imagine how much fentanyl made it into the U.S. without being caught by law enforcement. Imagine how many lives we’ve lost – over 100,000 a year in this country – eight to ten in my state a day in Alabama, not counting the cost of health care. Mental illness – I keep hearing about people training new mental health professionals – and that’s great. If we don’t stop this drug coming across the border, we’re not gonna fix anything. We’re wasting our time.”

“I’m offering this bill as an amendment to the SUPPORT Act today because I think we must take a good hard look at this,” Tuberville continued. “We’ve got to do it. Find[ing]ways to address substance abuse disorders is worthwhile and should be seriously considered by this committee. But unless we do something to address the supply, addiction will only continue and get worse. We will never get out of this epidemic without it. So, every day we leave it open, it’s becoming the biggest disaster of our lifetime. And we’re in here talking about mental health people working. It is a disaster. I’ve taught for 40 years, and I’ve never seen the influx of what’s happening. Not just in our communities but in our schools. We wonder why we have problems. It’s an absolute disgrace. Therefore, I’d like to offer and withdraw this amendment, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.”

Tuberville originally introduced the Border and Security Act in March 2023 as part of his continued push to tighten border security and address the humanitarian crisis created by President Joe Biden’s immigration policies. Tuberville’s legislation puts more responsibility on the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and gives increased authority to state attorneys general in holding DHS accountable if the department fails in its duty to restrict entry and detain illegal immigrants.

2.76 million illegal immigrants crossed the southern border in fiscal year 2022 alone – that is equal to 55.1% of the population of the state of Alabama. That was followed by a record-breaking 3.2 million in fiscal year 2023 – equivalent to 64.5% of the population of the state of Alabama.

The open border is also contributing to the deadly fentanyl epidemic, which kills 107,000 Americans a year. 69.5% of the deaths are males. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for adults aged 18-45.  

If enacted, the Border Safety and Security Act would:

·         Authorize the DHS Secretary to suspend the entry of illegal immigrants at the U.S. border should the secretary determine it is necessary to do so to regain operational control of the border.

·         Require the secretary to suspend the entry of illegal immigrants during any period of time in which DHS cannot detain such individuals or place them in Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or a similar program.

·         Authorize state attorneys general to bring legal action against the DHS should the secretary fail to suspend entry without detention or use of MPP, continuing to place strain on communities, so as to obtain injunctive relief.

Original cosponsors in the Senate include U.S. Senators Katie Britt (R-Alabama), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

The legislation is supported by the America First Policy Institute, NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Sen. Tuberville said he supports common-sense policies that strengthen our border and national security, like building the wall and reinstating the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the Remain in Mexico policy. Tuberville has spoken about his concerns on the floor of the U.S. Senate and called on the Biden administration to act. In September 2023, Senator Tuberville helped introduce the Secure the Border Act of 2023, the Senate companion passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year, commonly known as H.R. 2. It was blocked in the Senate.

Tuberville has served in the Senate for three years.

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