President Donald Trump signed a declaration Friday that authorizes “emergency action” on the U.S. southern border — a maneuver that circumvents Congress in an effort to secure billions more in funding for the “border wall” he has been promising supporters since his presidential campaign.
The president signed a funding bill Friday that allocated much less money to border barriers than the amount he had demanded (which earlier this year led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history). “I got $1.4 billion, but I’m not happy with it,” Trump told reporters in an announcement at the White House today. (The sum was actually $1.375 billion.)
The one thing the declaration does not mention specifically: a wall. It gives “additional authority to the Department of Defense to support the Federal Government’s response to the emergency at the southern border.” But the president could deploy the U.S. military to construct a border wall.
The Trump administration has repeatedly claimed there is a crisis at the border, and today’s proclamation offers a familiar refrain: “The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency.”
But the government’s own data on illegal immigration, drugs and terrorism raise questions about whether these claims are accurate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he’d support Trump’s declaration. Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans — including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., — have blasted the move. The ACLU has vowed to sue the Trump administration for today’s declaration, and the state of California is likely to do the same.
Below, read the president’s full proclamation:
The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch’s exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years. In particular, recent years have seen sharp increases in the number of family units entering and seeking entry to the United States and an inability to provide detention space for many of these aliens while their removal proceedings are pending. If not detained, such aliens are often released into the country and are often difficult to remove from the United States because they fail to appear for hearings, do not comply with orders of removal, or are otherwise difficult to locate. In response to the directive in my April 4, 2018, memorandum and subsequent requests for support by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense has provided support and resources to the Department of Homeland Security at the southern border. Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 201 and 301 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), hereby declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States, and that section 12302 of title 10, United States Code, is invoked and made available, according to its terms, to the Secretaries of the military departments concerned, subject to the direction of the Secretary of Defense in the case of the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. To provide additional authority to the Department of Defense to support the Federal Government’s response to the emergency at the southern border, I hereby declare that this emergency requires use of the Armed Forces and, in accordance with section 301 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1631), that the construction authority provided in section 2808 of title 10, United States Code, is invoked and made available, according to its terms, to the Secretary of Defense and, at the discretion of the Secretary of Defense, to the Secretaries of the military departments. I hereby direct as follows:
Section 1. The Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary of each relevant military department, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, shall order as many units or members of the Ready Reserve to active duty as the Secretary concerned, in the Secretary’s discretion, determines to be appropriate to assist and support the activities of the Secretary of Homeland Security at the southern border.
Sec. 2. The Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and, subject to the discretion of the Secretary of Defense, the Secretaries of the military departments, shall take all appropriate actions, consistent with applicable law, to use or support the use of the authorities herein invoked, including, if necessary, the transfer and acceptance of jurisdiction over border lands.
Sec. 3. This proclamation is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.
DONALD J. TRUMP