A group of Republican lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday that would give the National Guard the power to use lethal force against “armed invaders” crossing the southern border into the U.S.
The bill, titled “Defend Our Borders from Armed Invaders Act,” was introduced by freshman Rep. Morgan Luttrell, R-Texas, and has been referred to the Committee on Armed Services.
The legislation, if passed, would authorize the National Guard to take “such actions as may be necessary to repel persons attempting to enter the United States from Mexico who are carrying weapons, and for other purposes,” according to a description of the bill. The full text of the legislation has not been made public.
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Luttrell, a former Navy SEAL, said in a statement that the legislation is necessary to stop cartels and smugglers who are thriving at the “wide-open border.”
“We’re seeing violent crime continually escalate at the border and flow into our communities, as President Biden’s policies have created an untenable national security crisis,” Luttrell said.
“This legislation is a step in the right direction to reign in this crime by providing the National Guard [with] the power to stop these armed individuals from crossing into the United States by any means necessary.”
Cartel members and people smugglers have been known to use weapons to transport illegal immigrants across the southern border as well as drugs.
In August, Fox News obtained images showing suspected cartel gunmen coming across the U.S. southern border in Texas toting body armor and rifles. It is the same area where law enforcement arrested five suspected members of the Northeast Cartel in June.
Fox News’ drone also captured images of smugglers with machetes last summer hitting and threatening migrants at the edge of the river in Matamoros, Mexico, telling them to cross into Brownsville, Texas.
The Biden administration has taken several steps, including a collaborative law enforcement anti-smuggling campaign in 2022 that led to thousands of arrests, to crack down on cartel smuggling. It has also made over 170 sanctions designations of cartel leaders and members, often working with Mexico to do so.
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The move by Luttrell also comes as Texas is involved in a multipronged legal fight with the federal government on how to stem the unprecedented flow of illegal immigrants.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has seized state property along the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass known as Shelby Park while the Biden administration won a Supreme Court decision that allows Border Patrol to cut razor wire the state erected. Texas has continued to fortify the border and has also indicated it will not comply with the administration’s demands for it to vacate the Shelby Park area.
“[President Biden’s] actions have caused an unprecedented invasion that we must defend against,” Abbott said on Thursday.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) report for fiscal 2023 shows that the number of illegal immigrants on the non-detained docket has soared from 3.7 million in FY 2021 to nearly 4.8 million in FY 2022 to nearly 6.2 million in FY 2023.
The bill is being co-sponsored by Reps. Chuck Fleischman, R-Tenn., Chuck Edward, R-N.C, Brian Babin, R-Texas, Michael Guest, R-Miss., Mike Collin, Ga., and Brandon William, R-N.Y.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Griff Jenkins and Bill Melugin contributed to this report.