US – Washington
President Trump has said that he is considering declaring border security a national emergency and triggering presidential powers that would allow him to assign the military to build his border wall, and he promised a decision based on how shutdown negotiations go.
Some Democrats acknowledged that federal law does give Mr. Trump emergency powers, though they signaled they and their allies would try to tie up any such decision in lengthy court battles, in what could be a redux of the travel ban cases.
Mr. Trump raised the possibility at a press conference Friday and repeated it to reporters Sunday afternoon as he returned from Camp David after overseeing a day of shutdown negotiations.
“We’re looking at a national emergency because we have a national emergency,” he said.
The Pentagon last month said it has studied the issue and concluded it does have the legal authority to build border fencing if it is deemed part of a counterdrug operation or part of a national emergency.
Military members have placed razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border, as the Pentagon says it has legal authority to build border fencing if it is deemed part of a counter drug operation or part of a national emergency.
Defense officials at the time said while the legal issues had been studied, they did not have specific plans to follow through.
Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat and the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said presidents have indeed used emergency construction powers in the past — though he told ABC’s “This Week” program that “primarily it’s been done to build facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
He and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said attempts to use the powers in the U.S. will invite lawsuits over whether there is, in fact, a national emergency.
“He will face a challenge, I’m sure, if he oversteps what the law requires when it comes to his responsibilities as commander in chief,” Mr. Durbin told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Those lawsuits could put the courts in the thorny position of refereeing between Mr. Trump’s claims of illegal immigrants, drugs, criminals and terrorists pouring across the southwestern border, and Democrats’ insistence that the borders are secure enough.