How strong is the evidence that building a physical barrier on the U.S. border with Mexico would reduce the problem with illegal drugs in our country? An excellent recent article in Vox by German Lopez examines this question in detail. Here are some excerpts:
- Most border security analysts say there is little evidence the [border security] buildup has significantly reduced the availability of illegal narcotics in the United States.
- One of the big problems is that these border security measures typically target the areas between legal ports of entry… but most drugs come through legal ports of entry. As the DEA concluded in 2015, drug traffickers transport the bulk of their goods over the Southwest Border through ports of entry using passenger vehicles or tractor trailer. While marijuana is often trafficked in the areas between official crossing points (which a wall would cover), harder drugs like cocaine, meth, and heroin mostly come to the US through the legal ports of entry.
- If the goal of border security policy is to cut into drug trafficking, the investments would be better made at the ports of entry… but even if the US does significantly increase security at legal ports of entry, it simply can’t catch all the drugs going through the border…The vast majority of crossings at ports of entry are people going about their day-to-day business and doing things that are totally legal and legitimate, whether going to work or school or shopping or trucking goods back and forth across the US-Mexico border. We’re talking about a million licit crossings every day of people at the official crossing point. This is exactly why many drug traffickers resort to legal ports of entry. When there’s so much legal traffic to hide within, it’s safer and more reliable to go through a legal port of entry than to try a perilous journey through a desert or river patrolled by guards.
At Kolmac, where we deal with the “demand side” of the drug problem by helping addicted people stop using drugs, Federal government intervention is not forthcoming. Effective officials such as Michael Botticelli and Vivek Murthy are long ago departed. The laudable recommendations of the Trump Opioid Commission have not been implemented.
Some of our patients who work for the Federal government have had their recovery efforts hampered by the shutdown of the Federal government. For them, we have deferred their copayments for treatment. I only wish that there was more that our staff at Kolmac could do to help.