Opioid Fix: Stop Funding Sanctuary Cities
How best to combat America’s opioid epidemic? Make sanctuary cities go cold turkey.
Under pressure to do something – anything – Congress earmarked $6 billion to bolster drug enforcement and treatment programs. Since $6 billion doesn’t buy what it once did, Democrats and softheaded Republicans are clamoring for more.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., opened congressional hearings this week on the opioid crisis with a promise: “There’s going to be money – more money than has ever been spent.”
But throwing more tax dollars at the problem is the wrong approach. Let’s break it down.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that 80 percent of the illegal opioids sold in this country come via Mexican and Central American drug cartels.
It’s no coincidence that the spike in opioid abuse coincided with the proliferation of sanctuary cities, which disrupt communication between local police agencies, who make the bulk of drug arrests, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
While handcuffing law enforcement and facilitating the opioid distribution chain, open-borders advocates blame Americans’ demand for driving the drug epidemic. They argue that illegal aliens are being used as scapegoats.
In fact, illegal aliens fit right in. Seventy-five percent of federal convictions of illegal aliens are for drug possession. Another 18 percent involve drug trafficking.
Denver Police Detective Nick Rogers recently testified how drug runners in his city are mainly young illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America. He detailed how sanctuary policies undermine law enforcement on the front lines.
A key cog in the drug machine is the Mexican MS-13 gang, which the Center for Immigration Studies found to be particularly active in sanctuary cities.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last July that state and local governments would no longer qualify for the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program and Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants unless they give immigration authorities access to local jails, 48 hours’ notice before releasing undocumented immigrants from custody, and personal information about individuals suspected of being in the country illegally.
But cutting off federal funds to sanctuary cities faces ongoing court challenges. San Francisco and California are suing to block the Trump administration from withholding $28 million in law-enforcement funds from sanctuaries there.
Congress should weigh in. Instead of slapping more expensive Band-Aids on the opioid problem – and toying with yet another amnesty to reward lawless behavior – lawmakers can exercise their power of the purse to deal with jurisdictions that enable alien drug pushers. Passing the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act would halt federal funding to sanctuary cities whose dangerous policies aid and abet foreign narcotics cartels.
That vote won’t cost a dime; it will save taxpayer money, uphold the rule of law and spare lives.