US President Trump declares national emergency for border wall funding

World Today

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

The White House declared a national emergency. U.S. President Donald Trump said he wants to redirect billions of dollars to building more barriers at the U.S.-Mexico border.

He also signed a budget bill to prevent another government shutdown. CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he’s declaring a national emergency to speed up the building of his proposed wall at the border with Mexico. Congress gave him just under $1.4 billion. The White House says it plans to spend eight.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” Trump said.

Past presidents have declared national emergencies, too, but mostly to respond to crises which emerged overseas and not to bypass a decision made by lawmakers.

Opposition party Democrats said they’ll use every tool available to oppose the president’s declaration. They argued it is not only an unlawful overreach of power, but that its consequences pose risks of their own.

“It leaves our troops vulnerable and it does that by doing things like taking funds we’ve already allocated but not yet spent, but they haven’t yet spent from our intelligence centers, from our military readiness centers, from the schools on military bases across the world,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL, warned.

Prominent members of Trump’s own Republican Party, like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, warn the declaration violates the U.S. Constitution and sets a dangerous precedent. Others are backing their president.

“Well he said it when he was candidate Trump. Now he’s President Trump and he’s putting the security of the American people ahead of partisan politics and I fully respect that,” Rep. Steven Palazzo, D-MS, said.

But, on the campaign trail, Trump also said Mexico would pay for the wall. The $8 billion he’s now targeting comes from U.S. taxpayers. Trump acknowledges there will be lawsuits to try and stop the declaration but added that he’s ready for the fight.

“We won on the [travel] ban and we won on other things too. The probably easiest one to win is on declaring a national emergency because we’re declaring it for virtual invasion purposes, drugs, traffickers and gangs,” the U.S. president said.

Washington’s own statistics contradict that argument. According to the Department of Homeland Security, illegal border crossings have been declining for nearly two decades.

Asked where he was getting his numbers, the president told a reporter at the White House that “I have many stats.”

Eleanor Clift on Trump’s declaration of a national emergency

For more on the U.S. government budget and border debate, CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Eleanor Clift, a political analyst for The Daily Beast.