“I believe it’s impossible to discuss our nation’s opioid epidemic without discussing the crisis at the southern border”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) introduced the Border Safety and Security Act as an amendment to the SUPPORT Act, legislation to address the opioid crisis. During the markup, Coach Tuberville explained that Congress cannot begin to address the opioid crisis until the southern border is secure. HELP Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) opposed the amendment.
Read Coach Tuberville’s remarks in the markup below or watch here.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss an issue that I believe is directly related to everything we’ve talked about in here. I believe it’s impossible to discuss our nation’s opioid epidemic without discussing the crisis at the southern border. You know, back in March, I introduced the Border Safety and Security Act. This legislation requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend the entry of illegal immigrants into the United States until we have control of our border again – because we’ve lost it. 6.5 million illegal immigrants have been apprehended by the [Customs & Border Protection] since January 2021. In fiscal year 2023 alone, CBP seized 1,000 pounds of fentanyl at the border. Imagine how much fentanyl made it into the U.S. without being caught by law enforcement. Imagine how many lives we’ve lost – over 100,000 a year in this country – eight to ten in my state a day in Alabama, not counting the cost of health care. Mental illness – I keep hearing about people training new mental health professionals – and that’s great. If we don’t stop this drug coming across the border, we’re not gonna fix anything. We’re wasting our time.
I’m offering this bill as an amendment to the SUPPORT Act today because I think we must take a good hard look at this. We’ve got to do it. Find[ing] ways to address substance abuse disorders is worthwhile and should be seriously considered by this committee. But unless we do something to address the supply, addiction will only continue and get worse. We will never get out of this epidemic without it. So, every day we leave it open, it’s becoming the biggest disaster of our lifetime. And we’re in here talking about mental health people working. It is a disaster. I’ve taught for 40 years and I’ve never seen the influx of what’s happening. Not just in our communities, but in our schools. We wonder why we have problems. It’s an absolute disgrace.
Therefore, I’d like to offer and withdraw this amendment, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.”
Coach Tuberville originally introduced the Border and Security Act in March 2023 as part of his continued push to protect Americans by combatting the border crisis created by President Biden’s immigration policies. Coach Tuberville’s legislation puts more responsibility on the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and gives increased authority to state attorneys general in holding DHS accountable if the department fails in its duty to restrict entry and detain illegal immigrants. A historic 2.76 million illegal immigrants crossed the southern border in fiscal year 2022, and a record-breaking 3.2 million in fiscal year 2023. The open border is also contributing to the deadly fentanyl epidemic, which has now become the leading cause of death for adults age 18-45.
If enacted, the Border Safety and Security Act would:
- Authorize the DHS Secretary to suspend the entry of illegal immigrants at the U.S. border should the secretary determine it is necessary to do so in order to regain operational control of the border.
- Require the secretary to suspend the entry of illegal immigrants during any period of time in which DHS cannot detain such individuals or place them in Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or a similar program.
- Authorize state attorneys general to bring legal action against the DHS should the secretary fail to suspend entry without detention or use of MPP, continuing to place strain on communities, so as to obtain injunctive relief.
- Original cosponsors in the Senate include U.S. Senators Katie Britt (R-AL), J.D. Vance (R-OH), and Mike Lee (R-UT).
The legislation is supported by the America First Policy Institute, NumbersUSA, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Securing the Border
Senator Tuberville supports common-sense policies that strengthen our border and national security like building the wall and reinstating the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the Remain in Mexico policy. Senator Tuberville has spoken about his concerns on the floor of the U.S. Senate and called on the Biden administration to act. In September 2023, Senator Tuberville helped introduce the Secure the Border Act of 2023, the Senate companion passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year, commonly known as H.R. 2.
During his three years in the United States Senate, Senator Tuberville has made multiple visits to the southern border and worked on many legislative initiatives to secure the border, including giving law enforcement the tools needed to keep our communities safe and reforming immigration law to crack down on abuse and discourage illegal immigration.
Earlier this month, Coach Tuberville called on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to overhaul its harmful and deficient policies regarding the treatment of unaccompanied alien children in the United States.
In November, Coach cosponsored the Southern Border Transparency Act. The legislation would force the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to increase its reporting of data about illegal immigrants entering the country, in turn providing greater transparency to the American people.
In August 2023, Coach called on the Department of Defense to halt the sale of border wall construction materials after reports that the Department was moving quickly to dispose of the parts before the provisions of Wicker’s FINISH It Act could be implemented.
In July 2023, Coach introduced a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to strike down President Biden’s Circumvention of Lawful Pathways rule, which funnels illegal immigrants into unlawful parole programs that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established without Congress’ consent. This funneling effect has allowed, and encouraged, more people with weak or non-existent asylum claims to enter the U.S.
In May 2023, following the expiration of Title 42, Coach reintroduced The Empowering Law Enforcement Act, which would grant state and local law enforcement inherent immigration enforcement authority to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain, or transfer an illegal immigrant who has entered the U.S. Additionally, this legislation would provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary flexibility on how long a criminal alien may be detained, extending the 180-day period to ensure violent criminals are not released back into communities.
In March 2023, Senator Tuberville introduced the Border Safety and Security Act to protect Americans by combatting the border crisis created by President Biden’s immigration policies. The legislation puts more responsibility on the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and gives increased authority to state attorneys general to hold DHS accountable if the department fails in its duty to restrict entry and detain illegal immigrants.
Also in March 2023, Senator Tuberville cosponsored the Stopping Border Surges Act to address loopholes in our immigration system that encourage vulnerable immigrant populations to take dangerous, illegal paths of entry into the United States. The legislation includes reforms that would reduce unsustainable surges of illegal immigrants, strengthen our asylum process, eliminate the incentive to send children to the border; and dampen the exploitative power of coyotes and cartels.
In 2021, Senator Tuberville introduced his first piece of legislation as U.S. Senator, which required DHS to issue notices to appear to every single person paroled or released into the U.S., after media reported on the border becoming so overrun that Customs and Border Protection officers were forced to quickly release illegal immigrants into U.S. communities with no follow up for a date in immigration court.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.