President Donald J. Trump has made it known that he would declare a “national emergency” at the US/Mexico border in order to secure funds to build a southern border wall, an effort to augment funds that Congress has appropriated for border security in a bill that the president is expected to sign.
The national emergency declaration would be unusual in this case, as the southern border crisis lacks the immediacy of a catastrophe such as Sept. 11, 2001. The declaration also may be unconstitutional, and it probably will be challenged in the courts. National security expert Professor Emeritus William C. Banks has been in demand by top media outlets to explain the what, why, when, and how of declaring a national emergency.
Trump wants the military to build the border wall. It might not be legal.
(Vox | Feb. 14, 2019) After months of back-and-forth with Congress, President Donald Trump is expected to soon declare a national emergency in order for the US military to construct the southern border wall he’s promised for years.
But there’s a pretty big problem with that, according to experts — namely, that he has a very weak legal case, and there’s strong political opposition to making that happen.
Set aside the fact that Trump’s own administration doesn’t assess that there is a massive national security problem at the US-Mexico border. Trump believes there is, and he plans to take extraordinary measures to keep asylum seekers out of the country.
William Banks, a national security law expert at Syracuse University, helped me understand what to expect in the days ahead.
It turns out it’s going to be quite the tricky fight for Trump should he decide to actually declare a national emergency solely to get the border wall built.
The key law in question is the appropriately named “Construction authority in the event of a declaration of war or national emergency.” Here’s what it says:
In the event of a declaration of war or the declaration by the President of a national emergency in accordance with the National Emergencies Act that requires use of the armed forces, the Secretary of Defense, without regard to any other provision of law, may undertake military construction projects, and may authorize the Secretaries of the military departments to undertake military construction projects, not otherwise authorized by law that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces. Such projects may be undertaken only within the total amount of funds that have been appropriated for military construction, including funds appropriated for family housing, that have not been obligated …