Washington, DC (KINY) – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) raised the alarm over the rise of fentanyl flowing into communities across Alaska and Indian Country during Senate hearings on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
During a Senate Appropriations hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Senator Murkowski noted that she thinks the emergency at the southern border is exacerbating the opioid crisis impacting the entire country—and called for meaningful support for border security.
Murkowski stated the need for even incremental gains to reform broken border policies, including supporting efforts to strengthen the United States’ northern border. Murkowski said this isn’t exclusive to the southern border – America’s northern border saw hundreds of individuals on the terrorist watchlist attempt to enter the U.S. and an increased flow of fentanyl to Alaska.
“[Alaska is] a long way from the southern border. But I will tell you that looking at the numbers that we see coming across our northern border, and the number of those on the terrorist watch list—what we’re seeing almost 500 individuals on the terrorist watch list attempting to enter the U.S. at Northern Border points of entry,” Murkowski said.
Later on Wednesday, during a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs oversight hearing, Vice Chairman Murkowski noted that small villages across Alaska are seeing a dangerous increase in deaths caused by drug overdoses, and referred to recent reporting by the Anchorage Daily News on the flow of fentanyl into Native communities in Alaska.
In Savoonga alone, a community of just 826 people, 1,877 grams of fentanyl were found.
“We are looking at a situation right now, where our smallest of small native villages are receiving amounts of fentanyl that are breathtaking in their scope,” Murkowski said. “We have got to look really critically at what is happening to our Native American Alaskan Native population with fentanyl.”
She also stressed that Native Americans and Alaska Natives as a population are demographically dying of drug overdoses more than any other population over the past two years. Murkowski said that they need to understand how it is moving so rapidly.
“I think we all recognize that we’ve got to be doing more when it comes to treatment, but we’re dealing with a drug,” she said. “The lethality of which is almost incomprehensible for most people…We’ve got a challenge that is so big and so enormous.”