Governor Stitt Visits US-Mexico Border, Discusses Immigration 'Deterrents'

Governor Stitt, along with some other state governors, travelled to the US-Mexico border to see first-hand what is going on.

Monday, August 21st 2023, 10:33 pm

Governor Stitt was back at the US-Mexico border today, a few weeks after deploying 50 Oklahoma National Guardsmen to protect the area. Stitt, along with a small group of republican governors, also saw for the first time what they call “deterrents” for illegal immigration.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott shared an update from the border today, along with Governor Stitt, and governors from Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Governor Abbott says half of the states in the U.S. have sent military or law enforcement assistance to Texas, and 15 states, including Oklahoma, have sent military personnel to guard the border. Abbott called it “the deadliest land border in the entire world.”

“A deadly welcome mat for the migrants who are coming here,” said Abbott.

The republican leaders are blaming the president for problems at the US- Mexico border.

“Thousands of people are losing their lives because of Joe Biden's open borders. We as governors aim to do everything we can to put a stop to it,” said Abbott. “Joe Biden is responsible for that deadly border, but us governors were not going to stand idly by and see this disaster in the United states.”

The group of republican governors, including Stitt, were there to see what they call some of the “deterrents” for illegal immigration including a line of buoys and razor wire.

“You don't have a brain if you don't think we need to secure our border,” said Stitt.

The buoys immediately received backlash, as many called them a danger to people crossing the border. It’s a floating barrier placed in the river, made of buoys tied together, that's designed to be difficult to climb over or swim under.

Governors today also discussed an increase in drug smuggling they’re each seeing in their home states. All five cited an increase in deadly fentanyl.

Stitt is saying the border is the reason for an alarming spike in fentanyl deaths in Oklahoma.

“The crime that's coming through and the cartels that are using this and exploiting people. It's got to stop,” said Stitt.

According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, most of the drugs seized here in Oklahoma are trafficked across the border. OBN seized 128 pounds of fentanyl in 2022, a major spike from 18 in 2021.

“We know that's coming from here (the border),” said Stitt.

Governor Greg Abbott says agents across the border in Texas have seized enough fentanyl to kill every person in the U.S.

“All of America could be wiped out, simply by the fentanyl seized by the Texas Department of Public Safety.”

Now, these republican governors are calling for change.

“We just need a policy change, we just need to go back to the Trump era policy of- remain in Mexico,” said Stitt.

As part of Operation Lone Star, Oklahoma National Guardsmen will spend a month protecting the border, and another 50 guardsmen are tentatively scheduled to go in 2024 if needed.


What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an opioid that can be prescribed to patients battling severe pain. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, it is 100 times stronger than morphine.

Fentanyl is a major contributor to fatal and non-fatal overdoses in the US, according to the CDC.

Fentanyl is produced and prescribed as a medicine, but it is also made illegally and laced into other illegal drugs, often without the user knowing it’s there. 

“It is often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency,” the CDC says. “which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous.”

Fentanyl Overdoses On The Rise

Fentanyl overdoses have been steadily on the rise since 2017, according to the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. In 2017, the BNDDC reports 54 fentanyl overdoses, 39 for 2018, 54 for 2019, 137 for 2020, 299 for 2021 and 474 for 2022.

In comparison, overdoses by any drug have gone up slightly, but not as steeply as overdoses from fentanyl.

To combat overdoses, the CDC recommends using test strips to detect fentanyl to avoid an overdose.

Drug OverdosesImage Provided By: Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control

Where Does Fentanyl Come From?

Illegal fentanyl is primarily manufactured in China and Mexico, according to the DEA. Fentanyl from China is typically sent through international main and consignment operations, according to the DEA. Fentanyl from Mexico is typically smuggled across the border into California and Arizona, the DEA states.

It is often suggested that fentanyl comes over the Mexico border with illegal immigrants, it is more often smuggled by US citizens, according to the Department of Justice

“Drug trafficking organizations will use anyone they can to help them with their dangerous and illegal activities, including regular border crossers as well as teens in the hopes that they won’t arouse suspicion,” the DOJ stated.

Fentanyl Seizures

Occurrences of authorities seizing fentanyl in Oklahoma have gone up in recent years, according to the BNDCC. In 2018, authorities did not seize any fentanyl, in 2019 they seized half a pound, in 2020 it was two pounds, by 2021 the number spiked to 18, and 2022 had a whopping 127 pounds.

However, the seizure of other drugs have gone up consistently with fentanyl, the BNDCC’s data shows. Meth saw a similar climb from 2018, 301 pounds seized, to 2022 with 3,492 pounds seized. The same was seen with marijuana, 1588 pounds seized in 2018, to 55736 pounds in 2022.

Drug Seizures In OklahomaImage Provided By: Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control

Influence In Other Criminal Activity

Investigations of illegal drugs in Oklahoma has led to the identification of brothels, illegal casinos, other drug production and distribution and labor trafficking. According to the BNDCC, drug trafficking organizations have ties with sex and labor trafficking and money laundering.

What To Do During An Overdose

Fentanyl overdoses are extremely dangerous and require medical treatment. The American Addiction Centers advises that someone call 911 immediately. The AAC says overdoses can include small pupils, shallow breathing, cold skin, pale skin, blue or purple lips or fingers, no breathing, unconsciousness, limp limbs, slurred speech or inability to speak, unresponsiveness, vomiting, or choking.

AAC says to follow these steps if you believe someone is having a fentanyl overdose:

  1. Call 911
  2. Administer naloxone. Naloxone is used to quickly reverse an opioid overdose. There is an injectable solution and a nasal spray. Naloxone may need to be administered more than once.
  3. Turn the person on their side to prevent choking.
  4. Stay with the person and monitor their breathing until medical assistance.

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