Johnson, McCain Hold Field Hearing on Effects of America’s Heroin Epidemic at the Border

WASHINGTON — Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) along with a colleague on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), heard testimony Monday in Phoenix about the effects of America’s heroin epidemic along the nation’s southern border and what local, state and federal law enforcement is doing to combat illicit narcotic trafficking.

Monday’s hearing marks the 13th held by the committee on border security and the second focused solely on America’s heroin epidemic. “These topics are closely related,” Johnson said in his opening statement, “as one root cause of our unsecure border is America’s insatiable demand for drugs.”

“I appreciate Gov. Ducey, Sen. McCain and Sen. Flake inviting me to Arizona to hold a hearing on the drug trafficking coming across the state’s border,” Sen. Johnson said. “It was interesting to hear so many people agree with mine and the committee’s basic premise that the root cause of our unsecure border is America’s insatiable demand for drugs. The scourge of drug addiction plaguing cities and states across the country, including Wisconsin, is harming so many lives. Our top priority needs to be addressing the demand side of our drug addiction problem. It is past time we work to persuade all Americans, particularly young people, from taking and becoming addicted to drugs. We also must combat the supply side.  Action items we need to employ to secure our border include additional fencing, detection technology, more manpower, and improvement in the processing of people we apprehend.”

“I thank Chairman Johnson for holding this important field hearing in Arizona today on combatting America’s heroin epidemic at the first point of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Sen. McCain. “I appreciate each of the witnesses for providing critical insight into how we can enhance our drug interdiction strategy, particularly Governor Ducey who has spearheaded an anti-drug trafficking strike force to address this critical issue. We have a long way to go to stop the spread of illicit narcotics that are poisoning our children, destroying lives, and tearing apart communities. By strengthening state, federal and local efforts, we can stop the flow of illicit substances across our borders and reduce the demand for these dangerous drugs.”

In tandem with Monday’s hearing, Chairman Johnson released a 100 + page report on the state of America’s borders.

“America’s borders are not secure,” the report reads. “This current state of affairs is clearly unacceptable. A secure border is not only a prerequisite to a functioning legal immigration system, but it is essential to maintaining national security and protecting public health and safety.”

The report provides a summary of findings from the committee’s border security hearings, as well as a primer on key border security issues and recommendations for “first step” reforms that could begin improving security at our borders.  The committee has already begun crafting and passing a number of these initial reforms.  Six bills related to border security have been reported out of committee, one of which was recently signed into law. 

Watch the full hearing here.
Chairman Johnson’s opening statement can be found here.
Witness testimony can be found here.


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