Arizona congressman wants Trump to declare emergency over border wall

Jan 15, 2019, 2:04 PM

A supporter holds a sign in support during a news conference about border security on Capitol Hill,...

A supporter holds a sign in support during a news conference about border security on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

PHOENIX — An Arizona congressman is calling on President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a Tuesday op-ed published on Fox News, U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs said the need for a wall “cannot be overstated” to combat what some Republican lawmakers are calling a crisis at the border.

“If a wall is constructed, the humanitarian crisis would become manageable, as the tens of thousands of people risking their lives by attempting to cross the rugged frontiers of northern Mexico and the southwest United States would be deterred from taking that chance,” Biggs wrote.

The opinion article was published on the 25th day of a partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22 as the president and Congress wrangle over Trump’s demand for the $5.7 billion he has said is needed to build the wall and secure the border.

“The legislative, political and personality problems involved, coupled with the very real emergency on the border, indicate that, although he has said he doesn’t want to, the president is actually left with only one viable option: declare a state of emergency,” Biggs wrote.

But the congressman may be at odds with the people he was elected to represent: A KTAR News/OH Predictive Insights poll released Monday found that 46 percent of Arizonans were against Trump’s decision to shut down the government over border wall funding, while just 31 percent supported it. Almost a quarter had no opinion.

Trump floated the idea of declaring a national emergency in order to build the wall, but backed away from the idea on Monday, according to Vox.

“I’m not looking to call a national emergency,” Trump told reporters. “This is so simple, you shouldn’t have to do it.”

Trump can declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, but can only use about 130 specific powers that Congress has codified by law. Congress could overturn the emergency with a two-thirds majority in both chambers.

Biggs also on Tuesday reintroduced a bill that would fine countries for every person arrested after illegally entering the U.S. and then use those fines to find the border wall.

That move came days after he and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar voted against a bill to give back pay as soon as possible to the approximately 800,000 federal employees affected by the shutdown. That bill passed the House on a 411-7 vote Friday and heads to Trump’s desk.

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Arizona congressman wants Trump to declare emergency over border wall