When things aren’t going well, people tend to look for a scapegoat. When it comes to the opioid epidemic, the government’s preferred scapegoat has been doctors and pharmaceutical companies – saying that their prescriptions are fueling addictions. As we’ve learned from Dr. Jeffrey Singer over the years, the crackdown on prescription opioids has missed the mark and made the problem worse: addicted patients have turned to the black market to satisfy their demand, and gotten hooked on far more dangerous drugs like heroin and Fentanyl.
More recently, Republicans have tried to score points against the Biden administration by scapegoating illegal immigrants for the problem of Fentanyl smuggling, which has indeed increased. However, a Washington Post op-ed by Cato scholars Singer and David Bier (associate director of immigration studies) reveals the folly of this accusation. Illegal immigrants are not the ones bringing Fentanyl across the border. It’s mostly US citizens doing the smuggling. Ever since border enforcement has tightened, it has become more common for smugglers to conceal small amounts of the much more potent Fentanyl in otherwise legal border crossings.
David and Jeff join the show of ideas to discuss the inevitable unintended consequences of both the war on drugs and the war on immigrants. We will investigate the issue from the angle of the failure of drug prohibition, as well as the failure of strict immigration policy. Both of these problems share a common root cause – they seek to interfere with free markets. The inexorable laws of supply and demand don’t stop functioning just because an artificial legal boundary is erected – whether you’re talking about drugs or people.
Find out the solution, which might be simpler than you think.
Opinion | No, Biden's immigration policies are not to blame for the fentanyl crisis
David J. Bier is associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute. Jeffrey A. Singer practices general surgery in Phoenix and is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid responsible for 88 percent of opioid overdose deaths in the United States, is showing up in campaign ads across the country.