FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is introducing legislation to allow states to build their own border barriers, as well as prosecute and deport illegal immigrants – just as Texas is battling with the Biden administration over barriers it has set up at the Mexican border.
The State Border Defense Act would allow California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to construct barriers on federal lands or water along the southern border. The bill also allows states to prosecute and remove illegal immigrants from the country. The bill expands on legislation introduced last year and empowers the states by allowing them to enforce federal immigration law, effectively nullifying a 2012 Supreme Court case that significantly limited the ability of states to be involved in enforcement.
The legislation comes as Texas is battling with the Biden administration over its efforts to build a buoy barrier in the Rio Grande. The Department of Justice said the barrier violated federal law, raised humanitarian concerns, and presented “serious risks” to public safety and the environment.
A federal judge initially ordered the barrier to be removed, but that order has been put on hold by an appeals court. However, it is not the only challenge Texas is facing. Images last month showed Border Patrol agents cutting through barbed wire – set up by Texas – in order to allow migrants to be processed. Arizona last year had set up shipping containers as a makeshift border barrier but removed them amid a legal challenge from the administration.
The Biden administration, meanwhile, has largely ended border wall construction, which increased dramatically under the Trump administration.
As those challenges continue, numbers at the border are skyrocketing. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources told Fox News last week that total migrant encounters for September have exceeded 260,000, which is the highest monthly total ever recorded. That is after multiple days of more than 11,000 encounters a day – which exceeds records set during the days leading up to the expiration of Title 42 in May.
“Our southern border is overrun,” Hawley told Fox News Digital. “Joe Biden’s dangerous open-border policies are making it worse every single day, leaving states like Missouri to deal with the consequences. Since the federal government refuses to enforce our immigration laws, states must be able to.”
State involvement in the migrant crisis is growing as an issue. While Texas and Arizona have been directly impacted, there have been growing noises from other states – including Democrat-run states and cities like New York and Chicago, which have called for more action from the federal government.
While those calls have largely been limited to calling for more funding and work authorizations for migrants, some have started to call for additional border security efforts to stop them from coming into the U.S. in the first place.
“Well, we want them to have a limit on who can come across the border. It is too open right now,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Sunday. “People coming from all over the world are finding their way through simply saying they need asylum.”
“We are always so proud of the fact that New York has the Statue of Liberty in our harbor. We are one of the most diverse places on Earth because of our welcoming nature, and it’s in our DNA to welcome immigrants. But there has to be some limits in place,” she said.