Trump declares nat’l emergency to build wall on US-Mexico border
President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday with the goal of bypassing Congress and securing billions of dollars in additional funding to build a wall on the United States’ border with Mexico.
In remarks at the White House, Trump said the move was necessary to stop an “invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”
The president, however, also said he foresees lawsuits and a tough battle in the courts in trying to get the wall built.
“We will possibly get a bad ruling. And then we’ll get another bad ruling. And then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake,” he said.
In tandem with the emergency declaration, Trump also is to sign a $333 billion package of seven spending bills that was approved Thursday by wide margins in both the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Senate.
In doing so, he will avert a new partial government shutdown that had been scheduled to begin at 12.01 am on Saturday.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action - including a national emergency - to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Thursday.
A previous shutdown resulted in the partial paralysis of about a quarter of the government for 35 days starting Dec. 22, affecting some 800,000 of the 2.1 million federal workers.
On Monday, congressional Republicans and Democrats reached a budget accord that included $1.375 billion to build about 88.5 kilometers (55 miles) of physical barriers (steel bollard fencing) on the US-Mexico border.
But Trump, who had been seeking $5.7 billion in wall funding, said that he was not pleased with the results of the negotiations.
Earlier Friday, the White House said Trump plans to use around $8 billion to build the wall.
That total will include the just under $1.38 billion from the Homeland Security appropriations bill that Congress passed on Thursday, while the remaining $6.6 billion in funds is to be shifted from other programs as part of executive actions and a national emergency declaration.
Trump’s plan is to use $3.5 billion from the Defense Department’s military construction budget, $2.5 billion from that department’s drug interdiction program and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund to supplement the funding approved by Congress.
Trump’s pledge to build a wall to put a stop to illegal immigration is considered priority No. 1 by his core group of supporters and was a key factor in his surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election.
Democrats, however, have blasted Trump’s plans to move money around without congressional approval and say there is no emergency on the US’s southern border.
Trump’s fellow Republicans, meanwhile, say invoking an national emergency to build the wall creates a dangerous precedent because a future Democratic president could take similar action in the future if his or her priorities were blocked by Congress.
The president, however, downplayed his decision to take that course.
“I’m going to be signing a national emergency, and it’s been signed many times before, by many presidents. It’s rarely been a problem ... nobody cared,” Trump said.