WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today joined U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) in introducing legislation to provide U.S. border security officials more ability to curb the alarming infusion of fentanyl into the country.

Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, is an original cosponsor of Hagerty’s Stop Fentanyl Border Crossings Act.  Introduced Wednesday, the legislation would add drug smuggling as an additional basis for Title 42 immigration enforcement authority in order to allow Border Patrol to remove illegal border crossers and stop fentanyl trafficking.

“Title 42 was created as part of a public health emergency health order and it makes sense to extend it to the fentanyl health emergency hitting our nation.  With overdose deaths rising, there is no good reason not to utilize Title 42 to fight the increasing flow of this deadly drug being smuggled across the border by cartels and illegal immigrants,” Hyde-Smith said. 

“70,000 Americans are dying annually from drug overdoses—most from deadly fentanyl flooding across our collapsed southern border,” Hagerty said.  “With the Biden Administration pushing to end Title 42 in May, it is unconscionable for Congress to stand aside and do nothing to preserve it.  And while I agree that the pandemic is over, there is a new epidemic plaguing our nation—one that demands immediate action.  We cannot afford to allow this shockingly-lethal drug to continue wreaking havoc on our communities and killing our youth. Congress must take up and pass this commonsense legislation without delay—too many innocent American lives hang in the balance.”

The Stop Fentanyl Border Crossings Act would preserve continued use of Title 42 authority in order to combat drug trafficking at the border, even as the Biden administration works to terminate the authority with the official end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case on the legality of the administration’s termination effort.

Related the fentanyl crisis, Hyde-Smith has also cosponsored the Stop Taxpayer Funding of Traffickers Act (S.519) and the Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act (S.380), which would make the distribution of fentanyl, resulting in death, punishable by federal felony murder charges.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, is identified as a major factor in the growing overdose epidemic in America.  Overdoses represent the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18-45.  U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized nearly 18,000 pounds of fentanyl in FY2022.

The Stop Fentanyl Border Crossings Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).