In response to the growing international drug trafficking crisis and surging numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, President Joe Biden on Thursday authorized Defense Department officials to deploy active duty and reserve soldiers to the region. The president issued an executive order, enclosed in a letter to Congress, authorizing Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to activate units and individual members of the Ready Reserve in support of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) efforts.
Since Biden took office over two years ago, lawmakers estimate that up to six million illegal immigrants have crossed the southern border. Critics argue that drug cartels have exploited Biden's open border policies to smuggle deadly narcotics into the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram informed Republican members of a House Appropriations Committee panel during a budget hearing on Thursday that over 107,000 Americans died last year due to violence and drug overdoses linked to two major Mexican drug cartels - the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation criminal organizations. Milgram labeled these organizations as the greatest drug threat the country has ever faced.
The DEA traced the multi-faceted fentanyl crisis back three years, revealing that Mexico and China, along with India, are the primary sources of fentanyl and related substances trafficked directly into the United States. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blamed "a lack of love" in American families for the fentanyl crisis and called it America's problem, stating that Mexico does not produce or consume fentanyl.
The State Department estimated that $154 billion in illicit funds pass through China annually, labeling the nation as a global hub of money laundering activity. During a House oversight hearing on Wednesday, Health Care and Financial Services Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-MI) explained that drug cartels and Chinese money laundering organizations have partnered together, using Chinese banking apps and encrypted communications technology like WeChat to launder money quickly and efficiently.
Biden's authorization to deploy soldiers to the southern border comes as his administration anticipates another record surge of migration when the Title 42 COVID restrictions, which have blocked immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border over 2.5 million times before the pandemic, officially end on May 11. Media reports suggest that internal projections show arrivals could spike to between 10,000 and 13,000 per day next month.
DHS Secretary Mayorkas told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday that the U.S. plans to establish regional processing centers for immigrants seeking entry to reduce the number of arrivals after the restrictions end, stating, "Our border is not open and will not be open after May 11."