GOP lawmakers look to allow states to erect temporary border walls to halt illegal immigration

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FIRST ON FOX: House Republicans have introduced legislation that would allow states to secure the border by constructing temporary border barriers along the southern and northern borders to stop the entry of illegal immigrants.

Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., is introducing the CONTAINER Act in the House – a bill that aims to give states the authority to build temporary barriers on federal land in an effort to stop illegal immigrants and drugs like fentanyl from entering into their states via the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill is in response to legal battles that hit both Arizona and Texas over their efforts to secure the border with new barriers after border wall construction largely stopped when President Donald Trump left office.

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Concertina wire lines the path as members of Congress tour an area near the Texas-Mexico border on January 3, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

In 2022, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, set up hundreds of double-stacked shipping containers across the border in an effort to stop illegal immigrants as numbers rose in his state. In 2023, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott installed wrecking-ball-sized buoys and razor wire along the Rio Grande as part of his Operation Lone Star.

Arizona’s barrier has since been removed. In December, a judge ordered Texas to remove its buoys in the Rio Grande, and a court battle between Texas and the Biden administration is ongoing after Texas sued the federal government for cutting the wire.

“Not only has the Biden Administration failed to enforce our laws and secure our border, but they have also barred border states from executing more robust border security measures,” Rouzer said in a statement. “No community is immune to the drugs, sex trafficking and crime these policies are incentivizing while enriching the cartels. This bill will give border states the explicit ability to erect physical barriers to protect not only their citizens, but all of America, from President Biden’s catastrophic open-border policies.” 

Co-sponsors on the bill include House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R–Texas, and Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas.

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Arizona container wall

Aerial view of shipping containers being installed to fill gaps in the unfinished wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images)

“States like my home in Texas have the right to secure their borders when the White House refuses to do so,” Pfluger said.

Companion legislation was previously introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who said last month that “it’s clear Congress must act to give border states the explicit authority to protect their communities and the sovereignty of the United States.”

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Republicans have repeatedly called for border barrier construction as one of the ways to help secure the southern border. The House Republican border legislation, which passed the chamber last year, would restart border wall construction. However, it has not yet been taken up in the upper chamber.

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The Biden administration has largely ended border wall construction, calling it ineffective. Some construction has continued where money has already been appropriated by Congress in previous fiscal years. It has also called for Republicans to back a bipartisan Senate border bill that does include some funding for border wall construction. But conservatives have warned that the legislation would normalize already-high levels of illegal immigration.

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