CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey decried the Biden administration’s recent move to weaken border security writing Monday that he fears the action will increase the amount of lethal fentanyl pouring into West Virginia.
The Attorney General’s letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas criticizes the decision to rescind a Trump-era policy, known as Remain in Mexico, without due consideration of the impact on efforts to stop the smuggling of illegal drugs, such as fentanyl.
“West Virginia has already lost far too many people, including young parents and children, over the past decade to fatal drug overdoses. The federal government must secure the border to prevent another decade of senseless death,” Attorney General Morrisey wrote. “This is a pressing and urgent matter impacting West Virginia and every State suffering from fentanyl abuse and illegal drug trafficking. Lives are being lost every day. There is no time for delay.”
The letter notes that since West Virginia cannot singlehandedly police its own borders, it must rely on the federal government to secure the border against fentanyl and other illegal drugs.
It goes on to observe that while the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly played a role in the current crisis, Mexican cartels are building an entire industry around the manufacturing and trafficking of fentanyl.
This is especially concerning given that fentanyl overdose deaths increased 66 percent in Monongalia County, in addition to 125 and 250 percent respectively in Harrison and Marion counties from 2019 to 2020, according to the most recent available data.
The Attorney General fears ending Remain in Mexico will exacerbate the problem by dramatically increasing the illegal fentanyl supply by reassigning border security personnel and other resources the policy had freed up to stop smuggling and unlawful crossings.
The letter argues Secretary Mayorkas’ failure to address the issue in his justification for ending Remain in Mexico will make the policy change more susceptible to legal challenge, especially in light of a Senate hearing that raised this precise issue weeks prior.
The Attorney General’s letter requests a formal response by June 20. It contends that no lawsuit should be necessary for the Secretary to prioritize efforts to combat fentanyl smuggling.
Read a copy of the letter at https://bit.ly/3cqzig9.