West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is suing the Biden administration for its’ reversal of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy, which he claims has ignited a “devastating” flow of the deadly drug fentanyl over the border.
The administration began rescinding the policy, also known as Migrant Protection Policy or MPP, in January and formally ended it in June.
The lawsuit accuses Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of failing to consider “the consequences for the ongoing devastating deadly flood of fentanyl across the Southwest border into this country.”
It also alleges that ending the policy burdened and distracted Border Patrol, causing compromised or decreased border security more broadly against the trafficking of fentanyl “leading directly to both increased numbers of smuggling attempts and increased rates of success in evading Border Patrol.”
The suit accuses the Biden administration of violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in rescinding MPP. A federal judge ruled in a separate, but similar lawsuit that the Biden administration’s June 1st memo formally terminating the policy was in breach of the APA.
“When they modified [MPP], they utterly failed to consider what was going to happen to drug trafficking and didn’t even mention it in their documents, and when it comes to immigration issues, it’s not only about stopping undocumented aliens from coming across the border, it’s also critical to be mindful of the drug trade which affects every state in the United States,” Morrisey told Fox News.
“We are seeing numbers in West Virginia go through the roof in terms of fentanyl rising and while fentanyl has been increasing in recent years, we’ve really seen a lot of growth over the last 6-7 months and that’s very disconcerting,” he explained.
The attorney general believes that when smugglers get drugs across the border, “they make their way up the major highways eventually getting up to Detroit and Columbus and coming into West Virginia so there are a variety of different pathways that the fentanyl is moving in, but it is ultimately making its way up to many of the states across the country.”
On August 13, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled in favor of Texas and Missouri in a lawsuit in which the states alleged that the Biden administration’s attempt to end MPP was illegal and harmful, placing the accountability on the administration to “enforce and implement” the policy amid the surging border crisis.
Justice Samuel Alito issued a temporary stay after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit of New Orleans rejected a request by the Biden administration to delay the reinstatement of MPP following Kacsmaryk’s ruling. The stay will be in place until Tuesday so that justices can review filings submitted in connection with the case, according to the Associated Press.
Morrisey does not believe that the other ongoing lawsuit will affect his suit‘s outcome.
“We think we’re correct on the law, that when you make a major change in policy the way they did by moving away from Remain-in-Mexico you have to use reasoned decision making and you can’t meet the standard of reasoned decision making if you don’t actually consider drug trafficking coming across the border, and they didn’t when they changed the policy,” Morrisey attested.
Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous, potentially deadly opioid for pain treatment that is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine. The CDC reports more than 36,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl in 2019.
So far this year, fentanyl seizures at the border have nearly doubled from with 9,337 pounds of fentanyl seized thus far compared to 4,791 in FY 2020 and 2,804 in FY 2019. The seizures take place at ports of entry along the border, but it is unclear how much fentanyl is getting past agents at these check points. An increasing amount of the opioid is being found in the desert across the border according to an NBC report.
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