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OLATHE, Kan. — Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden plans to visit the country’s southern border with Sen. Roger Marshall.

Hayden, Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Richards, Shawnee County Sheriff Brian Hill, and two others will make the trip with Marshall on Thursday, May 19. They will tour the area, meet with border patrol officers, and attend briefings while there.

“I have to look at what problems are being created for Johnson County. Violent crime is up, overdoses from fentanyl and drugs coming in are almost at epidemic levels,” Hayden said.

Marshall said the trip is needed due to the expiration of Title 42 and the worsening fentanyl crisis.

Title 42 was implemented by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in March of 2020 to stop the spread of COVID-19. It allows immigration officers to deny migrants entry to the U.S. at the southern border.

Marshall also said the group will discuss the fentanyl crisis while on the trip.

“We’re kind of in a bubble here In Johnson County and I want to see what’s happening, talk to those guys down there, see what their operations are, see what they are finding. It will at least educate some of our citizens and our law enforcement,” Hayden said.

Fentanyl-related overdose deaths topped all other drug-related overdose deaths in Kansas last year, Marshall said.

He also pointed out officers have seized more than 12,000 pounds of fentanyl from traffickers at the southern border. Data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows more drugs are seized from the southwest border than the northern border or either coast.

“The crisis at our southern border is our biggest, most immediate national security threat. With fentanyl pouring across the border, this has turned into a public health crisis as well. Fentanyl is the deadliest drug our country has ever seen and is affecting Kansans at record rates,” Marshall said.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 149 of the 338 people in Kansas who died of drug overdose between Jan. 1 and June 30 of last year involved fentanyl.

“I get we are a country of immigrants, we are, but at some point we have to preserve our safety and security too,” Hayden said.

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