In a bid to rectify the chaos caused by President Joe Biden’s open border policies, 21 Republican attorneys general are formally requesting the federal government designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
In a letter sent to Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, the Republican coalition asked that “the Sinaloa Cartel, CJNG, and other similarly situated Mexican drug cartels be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations” under federal law so state and federal law enforcement agencies would be granted “increased powers to freeze cartel assets, deny entry to cartel members, and allow prosecutors to pursue tougher punishments against those who provide material support to the cartels.”
“Traditional counter-narcotics efforts are inadequate to address the threat posed by the Mexican drug cartels,” the document says. “Now that the cartels have made widespread use of assassinations and armed insurgency against the Mexican government, FTO designation is the only way to disrupt these increasingly violent cartel tactics and weaken their criminal enterprise.”
Throughout the letter, the signers, led by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, also point to the alarming rise in American drug overdoses, particularly those caused by heavily trafficked synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. According to figures from the Drug Enforcement Administration, 66 percent of America’s more than 100,000 overdose deaths last fiscal year were related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. From Oct. 2021 to June 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 8,425 pounds of fentanyl being smuggled into the country through the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The threat these drug cartels pose is real and imminent—which is why this country must escalate its response,” Miyares said in a statement. “Law enforcement agencies need every tool available to fight against this public health and national security crisis, and designating these cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations would be an important first step in confronting the gravity of this dangerous crisis.”
While Mexico-based cartels trafficking drugs into the U.S. isn’t a new problem, the Biden administration’s open border policies have made it easier. In June 2021, for instance, the administration announced it would end the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required illegal border crossers seeking asylum to stay in the Latin American country until their court hearing. The administration has also sought to eliminate Title 42, a health policy that allows federal officials to expel illegal migrants with minimal processing.
As a result of such policies, attempted illegal border crossings have skyrocketed, forcing CBP officials to prioritize processing the lawbreakers over securing the border. In December, the agency processed more than 250,000 illegals, representing a 7 percent increase from the month prior. In fiscal year 2022 alone, CBP officials reported an astonishing 2.3 million apprehensions, compared to the 1.7 million reported in 2021.