The situation along the southwest border has deteriorated so badly under President Joe Biden that in the last two years an Arizona county about an hour drive from Mexico has seen a breathtaking 377% increase in human smuggling and trafficking incidents and a shocking 610% rise in fentanyl pills seized by local law enforcement officers. Closer to the southern border a small Arizona town a stone’s throw from Los Algodones, Mexico saw three times its population cross into its municipality illegally last year, overwhelming the city’s only hospital.
The Pinal County Sheriff and the president of Yuma Regional Medical Center offered the chilling information this week during a congressional hearing focusing on immigration since Biden took office. Held by the House Homeland Security Committee, the session occurred just days after the nation heard alarming testimony form Border Patrol sector chiefs during a separate conference held by the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. In that hearing Rio Grande Valley Chief Gloria Chavez revealed cartels use drones to track federal agents and that in her Texas sector alone more than 10,000 drone incursions and 25,000 drone sightings occurred in a year. “The adversaries have 17 times the number of drones, twice the amount of flight hours and unlimited funding to grow their operations,” Chavez told federal lawmakers. Tucson sector Chief John Modlin said the border crisis has gone from “what I would describe as unprecedented to a point where I don’t have the correct adjective.” Last year his Arizona sector seized about 700 pounds of fentanyl, which is well over three million pills.
American border towns have been devastated by the illegal immigration crisis and the problem is spilling over into distant regions that typically do not see the kind of activity associated with border crimes. The president of Yuma Regional Medical Center, Dr. Robert Trenschel, said before the congressional hearing this week that his facility is overwhelmed. “Yuma is only a population of 100,000 people, and we’ve had 300,000 people cross the border in a year, and we’re the only hospital they go to,” Trenschel said. “So they come to us and that’s impacted our hospital significantly and disproportionately.” The hospital chief testified that many migrants come with significant diseases that require costly treatments like dialysis, cardiac catheterization and surgery. “Many are very sick,” he said. “They have long term complications of chronic disease that have not been cared for. Some end up in the ICU for 60 days or more. One of the largest cohorts we have seen are maternity patients who present with little or no prenatal care. These higher risk pregnancies and births result in higher complication rates and longer hospital stays. Due to a lack of pre-natal care, many of these babies require a stay in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit—some for a month or more at a time.” Of course, American taxpayers are picking up the tab for the costly medical care.
Further from the Mexican border in central Arizona’s Pinal County, the area’s top law enforcement official says a high percentage of the drugs and human smuggling plaguing the U.S. pass through his jurisdiction enroute to Phoenix and the rest of the country. The elected sheriff, Mark Lamb, testified that over the last two years human smuggling/trafficking incidents in his county have increased 377% and vehicle pursuits related to human smuggling are up 461%. “If it’s not humans being trafficked, it’s drugs,” Lamb said. “The number of fentanyl pills my deputies have seized along this same route since 2020 is up 610%.” The veteran cop also told lawmakers that most of the migrants his agency encounters, those who got away from the Border Patrol, are being trafficked by the cartels. “They are adult military aged men wearing camouflage clothes, carpet shoes, carrying backpacks and often times drugs,” Lamb said. “They have eluded Border Patrol by walking through the desert for several days and have no intentions of giving up. Many of them have been deported before, have criminal records or work directly for the cartels. Their goal is to enter our country undetected and illegally.”
During the lengthy hearing the sheriff also expressed frustration at media and Biden administration claims that there is not a crisis at the southern border and the lie that the area is secure. “Clearly, our statistics tell a different story,” Lamb said. “And that story is that the border is not secure.”