Donald Trump Declares National Emergency to Build Border WallTop Stories

February 16, 2019 05:17
Donald Trump Declares National Emergency to Build Border Wall

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President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in order to unlock billions of dollars of federal money to build a wall along the United States-Mexico border.

The move, according to Trump, is essential to prevent the country from “invasion” of illegal immigrants. "It's a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people," the president said.

The money in the bill for border barriers, about USD 1.4 billion, is very much below the USD 5.7 billion Trump demanded he needed to build the physical barrier. It would finance just a quarter of the more than 322 kilometers he wanted this year.

Trump argued that he has taken this path to speed up the process of building the wall. "I could do the wall over a long period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I would rather do it much faster," he said.

Trump's move is already drawing bipartisan criticism on Capitol Hill and the opponents have already announced to legally challenge it. However, Trump exuded confidence that he will win the court battle.

The White House said the administration has so far identified up to USD 8.1 billion that will be available to build the border wall once the national emergency is declared and additional funds have been reprogrammed.

A senior administration official said the fund would be used to repair or build barriers along at least 234 miles of the border.

"We are in the process to make sure that we can make those dollars go as far as they possibly can. And we expect that they will be able to go farther than 234 miles," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Trump told reporters that his predecessors have used these provisions of presidential powers multiple times in the past, even for issues that are less important than for what he has signed on Friday.

Under the National Emergencies Act, since 1976, the U.S. presidents have declared nearly 60 national emergencies, according to a White House factsheet.

In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer declared Trump's declaration of emergency as unlawful, which they said is over a crisis that does not exist and it does great violence to the Constitution.

"This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed President, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process," they said.

Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said the decision not only jeopardizes the safety of thousands of asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border but the integrity of our democracy.

"President Trump's temper-tantrum over building a wasteful and immoral border wall has risen to new heights - declaring a fake national state of emergency to keep a racist campaign promise," Choi said.

-Sowmya Sangam

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Donald Trump  border wall