Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., told a mother who lost her daughter to fentanyl that she was being “used” by Republicans during a House Homeland Security hearing on Thursday.
Goldman’s remarks to Josephine Dunn, whose 26-year-old daughter Ashley lost her life to fentanyl-laced pills, came during the committee’s hearing titled “Voices for the Victims: The Heartbreaking Reality of the Mayorkas Border Crisis.”
Dunn had been invited by Republicans to take part in the hearing and share the story of how she lost her daughter to fentanyl as Congress continues on with the impeachment proceedings against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Expressing his “sincere condolences” to Dunn for the loss of her daughter, Goldman said that he wanted to “apologize in some ways” to Dunn because she was “being used as a fact witness for an impeachment investigation.”
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“Obviously, given what your experience has been, you don’t have the background to understand what a high crime and misdemeanor is and how it relates to this,” he added in his remarks to Dunn.
Goldman’s remarks drew the ire of Dunn, who told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Friday that the lawmaker is “unaware about what my understanding, about what my education, what my experience is in any of those areas when it comes to misdemeanors or high crimes.”
“I have my opinions, and for him to assume that I want to just put more money into a system that has had plenty of money placed into it and is still broken is incorrect. Please don’t think for me. I have a brain, I can think and speak for myself,” she told the outlet.
During the hearing, Dunn grew visibly frustrated with Goldman as he attempted to question her.
“You would agree, would you not, that it would help to stop the fentanyl trade and fentanyl trafficking from coming into this country if we had more law enforcement officers at the border and more resources and technology to stop the fentanyl from coming in?” he asked Dunn. “Do you agree with that?”
Dunn rejected Goldman’s premise, saying “Border Patrol is now being used to make sandwiches and to screen people and let them into our country. So I disagree with you.”
Moments later, Dunn added: “I would like the border patrol to be able to do the job that they were hired to do. Every border patrol officer that I have spoken to has told me that their hands are tied by this administration and Mr. Mayorkas. I’ve been to the border, sir, have you?”
Goldman responded that he was the one asking the questions at the hearing.
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Further highlighting the moment in a post to Facebook, Dunn wrote, “Pardon me sir, but you know nothing of my experience, my background or my understanding. Also, in all of my research, you have yet to travel once to the Southern Border of the United States. Is that why you avoided my question?”
“Are you unable to return to your constituency and explain your lack of understanding of the border, lack of experience at the border or was it something else? I would think you could have heard what I actually said. Not what you wanted me to say,” she added.
Last September, Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens announced that agents had seized over 2,700 lbs. of fentanyl as part of the more than 69,000 lbs of narcotics seized between ports of entry. The seizures also included 40,000 lbs. of marijuana, 13,000 lbs. of methamphetamine and 11,000 lbs. of cocaine.
That amount of fentanyl, which does not include the amount seized at ports of entry, is more than enough lethal doses to kill the entire population of the United States. While significantly more is caught at ports of entry – with over 22,000 lbs caught at the ports of entry at the southern border this fiscal year – the stat highlights the danger of fentanyl moving between the ports and potentially past overwhelmed agents in the field.
Opioids were involved in more than 100,000 overdose deaths in 2022. Fentanyl is the most prominent opioid, which is produced primarily in Mexico, using Chinese precursors, and then trafficked across the southern border. The drug is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and is often cut with other drugs, meaning that the user doesn’t know that they are ingesting fentanyl.
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While opioid deaths have risen sharply in recent years, the Biden administration has pointed to data suggesting that overdose numbers are slowing and has tied that flattening to its drug strategy, which involves going after smugglers, increasing technology at ports of entry and providing additional funding for treatment and prevention within the U.S.
But the administration has faced criticism from Republicans over its handling of the fentanyl crisis, particularly at the southern border, which they say has exacerbated the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. Some Republicans, including those on the 2024 trail, have called for military action in Mexico to take out drug labs run by the cartels.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.