Trump declares an National Emergency on U.S.-Mexico border

World Today

President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

U.S. President Donald Trump is declaring a national emergency on the southern border with Mexico in order to secure funding to build a border wall.

“I am going to sign a national emergency,“ said the U.S. president Friday, just hours after Congress approved $1.375 billion for border fencing, a fraction of the $5.7 billion Trump had sought.

The congressional compromise averted another partial U.S. government shutdown. But the national emergency declaration will likely lead to another political showdown.

The White House is controversially planning to “redistribute” money already allocated for other purposes to build the wall, which was a key election campaign pledge.

The White House says $3.5 billion would come from defense construction budgets, $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs, and $600 million from assets seized by the U.S. Treasury.

The money would build about 377 kilometers of steel bollard-style fencing. Exactly where or when it would be built has not been announced, and there are restrictions on where a barrier can be constructed.

The emergency declaration will face near certain legal challenges. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress controls the cash, and the White House could be in legal hot water here.

White House officials say, however, they are confident that they are on sound legal ground. In a background call with reporters, officials said a national emergency has been declared 58 times since 1976, calling it a common practice.

While statistics cast doubt on the existence of an immigration crisis at the border, the White House continues to insist it is one.

“We fight wars 6,000 miles away,“ Donald Trump said, adding, “we can’t control our own border.”

Invited to the president’s announcement in the Rose Garden at the White House were those Trump calls “Angel moms,” mothers whose children have been killed by illegal immigrants.

While statistics show U.S. citizens are actually more likely to commit crimes than illegal immigrants, the White House continues to cite immigrant crime as a reason to crack down on border crossings. Friday Trump asked a woman to stand and show the assembled crowd a picture of her recently murdered husband, killed, he said, by an illegal immigrant.

The debate over U.S. President Trump’s wall will continue. However, we are a long way from his election campaign pledge that he would build a wall across the entire length of the southern border and that Mexico would pay for it.