Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy sparred with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre over the increase in fentanyl flooding through the U.S.-Mexico border during Wednesday’s press briefing.
Doocy asked about the president’s response to the discovery of rainbow fentanyl, a drug targeted toward children, in 18 states. Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration has taken several steps to prevent drug overdoses, naming the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) initiative announced Wednesday to put $80 million towards drug prevention.
“But 300 overdoses a day now, we know how the fentanyl’s coming into the country, it’s coming right across the southern border,” Doocy said. “The DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] administrator says so. So, when is the president going to do something in order to stop it?”
“So, I will say that you have seen a 200 percent increase of fentanyl seizures, which means that we are doing the job of catching drug traffickers, hold on, 200 percent increase, just again,” she said.
Doocy argued American life expectancies are decreasing at a record rate not seen in a century in part due to drug overdoses. The press secretary argued the administration is “securing the border” and taking massive steps to stop drug traffickers and financiers from eliciting these drugs.
“And we agree, we agree, we see those same numbers as well,” the press secretary said. “But the fact that we are securing the border, the fact that we are securing record levels of funding from DHS so they can stop illicit drugs from entering into the country, the fact that it’s not just drug traffickers that we’re dealing with as well, we’re stopping financiers. This is what’s happening under this administration.” (RELATED: ‘That’s Exactly What’s Happening!’: Doocy, Jean-Pierre Spar Over CDC Guidance For Illegal Immigrants Versus All Other Travelers)
“It’s not being stopped,” Doocy interjected. “Three hundred overdoses, this is being designed to target children. Drug cartels in Mexico want to kill American kids. What is this president doing about it?”
“I hear you, I just laid out, 200 percent of increase of drug fentanyl seizures. That is a dangerous drug that we are taking off the street. We are going to continue to focus, this is an important, important priority for this president.”
She then pushed back against Doocy singling out the southern border as the source of where the drug is coming from, and accused Republicans of not helping take action to stop drug overdoses.
“People are coming in, fentanyl’s coming in, people are dying,” Doocy continued. Jean-Pierre said Border Patrol agents take illegal migrants into custody and the court either expels them under Title 42, transfers them to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or monitors them in detention programs.
“When it comes to what’s happening with drug overdose, this is something that the president cares about. This is something that the president has laid out a plan to make sure that our kids, our babies, our young Americans here in this country are not continuing to suffer from that. Are not continuing to be given more access to drugs. This is something that’s incredibly important to this president, so to say that we’re not doing enough, Peter, is just falsely, categorically wrong especially on a day that we are observing what needs to be done,” Jean-Pierre said.
“And here’s the thing, Peter, if Republicans want to help us stop overdoses and stop our kids getting overdosed because of these dangerous drugs, because of these fentanyl that we’re seeing in the streets, we’re happy to work with them. But they’re not,” the press secretary concluded.
As of January 2022, 107,375 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in a one-year period, according to the DEA. Over two-thirds of these deaths, 67%, involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Fentanyl seizures have spiked by 323 percent in San Diego in the last three years, where Border Patrol seized 5,091 pounds in the first 9 months of FY 2022, the Justice Department reported earlier in August.