Op eds

This op-ed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) first appeared in LaPolitics on May 15, 2024. 

Louisianians are fighting back against the poisonous scourge of fentanyl. 

Whether it’s the pastors in New Orleans who have started distributing Narcan to their parishioners or the convenience store owner in St. Bernard Parish who offers free fentanyl test strips at his register, Louisianians are doing all they can to save lives.  

This battle against fentanyl overdoses, however, is not one that a state can win on its own. The Louisiana legislature has done some wonderful work to hold fentanyl dealers accountable, but President Biden’s failed border policies have turned fentanyl enforcement into a game of whack-a-mole. 

Since President Biden took office, border patrol officers have seized enough fentanyl to kill every single person on the planet. Total fentanyl seizures increased fivefold between 2020 and 2023. Yet one whistleblower reported that President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has reassigned many agents from the task of stopping fentanyl trafficking to instead “hand out sandwiches” to the thousands of foreign nationals who are crossing our border each day. 

We have no clue how much more fentanyl got across our border undetected due to these absurd policies. 

Once these drugs enter our country, there’s very little states can do to stop this poison before it hits their communities. In 2022, 1,420 Louisiana families lost loved ones to opioid-involved overdoses. Another 15,665 Louisianians ended up in the emergency room because of drug poisonings in 2021. According to the New Orleans coroner, 94% of lethal drug overdoses in 2021 involved fentanyl. Accidental overdoses are now the number one cause of death for Louisianians under the age of 40. 

If the Biden administration wanted to fix this problem, they would secure the border, hold cartels responsible, and ensure that fentanyl dealers face serious consequences for their crimes. 

It’s not astrophysics. Yet the Biden administration continues to follow the advice of open-border extremists rather than taking those simple steps to save American lives. 

When the House impeached Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, for example, the Senate Democrats dismissed the impeachment without even considering the charges. 

My Democratic colleagues also blocked the Fairness in Fentanyl Sentencing Act, my bill which would decrease the amount of fentanyl a person can carry before they face a five or 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Today, these fentanyl dealers face shorter sentences than individuals who deal much less deadly drugs. That’s a problem. Yet Senate Democrats won’t take action to hold fentanyl dealers accountable. 

They’ve blocked efforts to hold the cartels responsible for pumping fentanyl into our country, too. I helped introduce the NARCOS Act, a bill that would classify these cartels as terrorist organizations. Senate Democrats, though, have shown no interest in that legislation, either. 

Louisianians will not stop fighting to get fentanyl out of our communities. This fight would be a lot easier, however, if President Biden started to take this problem seriously. It’s not too late for the Biden administration to abandon its disastrous policies and join us in saving American lives.