Fitzpatrick Questions DHS Sec. on Border Security, Opioid Epidemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) questioned Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Tuesday on a number of issues, including the security of our nation’s borders and the connection between border control and combating Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic. The exchange, part of the House Committee on Homeland Security hearing entitled ‘Ending the Crisis: America's Borders and the Path to Security,’ focused on border security and law enforcement efforts aimed at preventing the flow of illicit drugs in the United States.
“There is no doubt that our nation’s porous border leaves us vulnerable to illegal immigration and infiltration by terror groups, but it also allows for the flood of illegal drugs into our country. As we continue to battle the challenges posed to our community by the opioid epidemic, it is vital that we work to identify and address the proliferation of these substances,” said Fitzpatrick following the hearing. “Today’s hearing provided an opportunity to focus the Homeland Security Committee on an often underestimated piece of the discussion when it comes to securing our borders. I’m pleased Sec. Kelly, the Department of Homeland Security and Chairman McCaul agree that securing our border is important on many levels. Now, it’s time we get to work.”
Fitzpatrick, a former FBI special agent, drug crime federal prosecutor and certified Emergency Medical Technician, has sought to draw attention to the connection between border security and opioid proliferation. When asked, Sec. Kelly agreed there was a direct link and action is needed to address the drugs and drug money before they cross into the U.S.
“I believe, by reinforcing the southwest border, and getting some control over it, it will make it harder for the importation of drugs that way,” said Sec. Kelly in response to Fitzpatrick’s questioning. “When I was in Southern Command, we worked very closely with the FBI, CIA and Treasury Department. I think that kind of thing: going after the money, working with cooperative countries - and making them cooperative if they don’t want to be – that’s an aspect of it. Demand reduction. Better ports of entry.
“But, my view is, once it’s in the states, we’re done. We’re lost. There’s a million law enforcement individuals in our country who are superheroes in every sense of the word, but they cannot keep up with the amount of drugs… and amount of people that make it into the country. They’re just overwhelmed by the numbers and the tonnages.”
The hearing was the first appearance of Sec. John Kelly, a former Marine Corp general, in front of the House Homeland Security Committee. Joining him were: Mr. Steve C. McCraw, Director, Texas Department of Homeland Security; Mr. Joe Frank Martinez, Sheriff, Val Verde County, Texas; Mr. Leon N. Wilmot, Sheriff, Yuma County, Arizona; The Honorable Eddie Treviño, Jr., County Judge, Cameron County, Texas.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick is serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the Homeland Security, Foreign Affairs & Small Business committees. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th District which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He is a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).