Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 June 2019

Donald Trump declares US national emergency over border wall funding

He made the announcement in the White House Rose garden on Friday

He cited border security as the reason for the declaration. Reuters
He cited border security as the reason for the declaration. Reuters

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday to fulfil his pledge to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Bypassing Congress, which approved far less money for his proposed wall than he had sought, Trump said he will use executive action to siphon billions of dollars from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts for the wall, aides said.

The move drew immediate bipartisan criticism on Capitol Hill and is expected to face rounds of legal challenges. Trump made the announcement from the Rose Garden, as he claimed illegal immigration was "an invasion of our country." Trump's move followed a rare show of bipartisanship when lawmakers voted Thursday to fund large swaths of the government and avoid a repeat of this winter's debilitating five-week government shutdown.

A national emergency would allow Trump to dip into funds lawmakers had approved for other purposes to build his wall. However, the measure is likely to face legal and congressional challenges from his opposition, something Mr Trump said he is prepared for, but believes he will win.

"Sadly, we'll be sued and sadly it will go through a process and happily we'll win,” he said.

Mr Trump defended his decision to declare an emergency, comparing it to actions other presidents have taken in the event of natural disasters.

“There’s rarely been a problem,” he said. “They sign it. Nobody cares. We’re talking about an invasion of our country, with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”

Emergency declarations by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were overwhelmingly for the purpose of addressing crises that emerged abroad. Many blocked foreign interests or terrorist-linked entities from access to funds. Some prohibited certain imports from or investments to countries associated with human rights abuses.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate's top Democrat, swiftly responded to Trump's declaration.

"The president's actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution," they said in a statement. "The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”

A list compiled by the Brennan Center says Clinton declared 17 national emergencies, Bush 13 and Obama 12.

Earlier this month the Pentagon approved a measure to station an additional 3,750 troops in border areas for three months.

Updated: February 16, 2019 01:59 AM