PolitiFact: Don't Blame Mayorkas For Fentanyl, But Gender Can Change

February 14th, 2024 3:34 PM

It is a commonly accepted axiom that in politics the buck stops with the president or, if you like, his cabinet, but for PolitiFact applying this standard to the border and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is “false.” At the same time, PolitiFact will go to great lengths to insist that gender is something completely different from sex.

In a Tuesday article on Rep. Michael McCaul declaring Mayorkas to be “personally responsible” for the fentanyl crisis, Bayliss Wagner writes in a series of bullet points, “Border policies are shaped by the Homeland Security chief, the president, and Congress, not just by Mayorkas” and “Although Border Patrol agents seize a small percentage of illicitly produced fentanyl, the vast majority of fentanyl enters the country in vehicles driven by U.S. citizens, Customs and Border Protection and sentencing data show.”

That, of course, doesn’t mention all the unseized fentanyl, as Wagner writes:

In House testimony that McCaul’s office referred to as evidence for his claim, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd stated that Biden’s border policies have led to a historically high number of ‘got-aways,’ or people who were found to be crossing the border illegally but evaded apprehension. However, the estimated annual apprehension rate of undocumented migrants under Mayorkas has averaged 78%, identical to that of the Trump administration, per a Jan. 28 DHS memo.

Judd also noted that Border Patrol seized about 3,243 pounds of fentanyl in Biden’s first two years in office, which means hundreds of millions of lethal doses of the synthetic opioid were brought into the country outside of legal ports of entry.

Having an identical rate of apprehension only matters if the quantity of apprehensions remains the same, which, as Judd notes, it has not, making a “false” rating excessive.

Wagner would also attempt to defend Mayorkas by blaming House Republicans for not passing the recent Senate bill, but that would not have affected anything in the past. She also claims that “Mayorkas does not completely control other factors that affect fentanyl smuggling, such as negotiations with China” and “The opioid epidemic began in the 1990s, long before Mayorkas became DHS secretary.”

While Wagner played defense for Mayorkas, “LGBTQ issues” writer Grace Abels came out with an explainer piece on a new Florida policy that reversed a previous policy of allowing residents to change “whether a ‘M’ or ‘F’ appears in the gender field of their driver’s license.”

There wasn’t much to fact-check, but the piece does highlight PolitiFact’s approach to transgender issues, “Although 'sex’ and ‘gender’ are often used as synonyms, medical experts and most major medical organizations define these terms differently.”

The idea that “gender” is a synonym for “sex” is centuries old, the politicized definition Abels references is merely decades old. It is a fact that gender comes from genus, meaning “kind,” but Abels appealed to those politicized authorities, which claim it is actually the believers in the old and correct definition that are seeking to redefine the term:

Florida’s physical license labels the ‘M’/’F’ field with the term ‘sex.’ But the law on licenses uses the term "gender" to describe what is required on a license application.

University of Florida law professor Berta Esperanza Hernández-Truyol questioned the interpretation. ‘While, to be sure, agencies issue regulations, it is very arguably beyond their purview to single-handedly reinterpret statutory law,’ she said. ‘Especially with the attempted redefinition of ‘gender’ which, as a term of art, has a different meaning from ‘sex.’

Republicans citing “got-aways” on the border aren’t enough to save them from false ratings, but the official position of PolitiFact is that gender is something that can be changed. Make that make sense.