Rep. Joe Wilson backs Trump’s potential ‘national emergency’ border declaration

January 11, 2019

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson on Monday said he supports declaring a national emergency to secure funding for a wall and other security enhancements along the nation’s southern border, a controversial idea recently floated by President Donald Trump.

“To provide for security and stability of Mexico, to provide for the United States, I believe that we are in the circumstance of a national emergency,” Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, said following a press conference at the Aiken County Government Center.

Wilson said the declaration is suitable for many reasons, crime and drugs chief among them.

“It’s a national emergency because … we have terrorists coming across the border, and there’s been some debate: Is it one terrorist a day or 10? It’s terrorists coming across the border,” Wilson said, continuing: “It’s a national emergency because we have MS-13 gang members coming across the border. It’s a national emergency because of the importation of heroin across the border.”

Wilson did not immediately offer evidence to back up his statements. Trump has often used MS-13 as a talking point.

In a June 2018 speech, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen mentioned blocking an average 10 “known or suspected terrorists a day from traveling to or attempting to enter the United States.”

Nielsen did not specify if that was at the U.S.-Mexico border, though.

Trump has repeatedly, with little success, urged Congress to fund a border wall. The repeated multi-billion-dollar request has led to the ongoing partial government shutdown, which Wilson said has “absolutely” gone on for too long.

Declaring a national emergency could resolve the federal impasse, the longtime congressman added.

Theoretically, the potential emergency declaration would free up defense funds for border use, satisfying Trump’s pursuit.

“I’m just confident that the shutdown will be addressed, but equally, that we must have border security. And I want every effort made,” Wilson said, later thanking the president for his fortitude.

Wilson — who said walls and fences make “good neighbors” — was in South Carolina on Monday to unveil and discuss his 2019 legislative agenda. He made three stops: one in West Columbia, one in Aiken and one in Barnwell.

Wilson represents South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District.

Update hourly