President Donald Trump said Thursday that “it would be very surprising” if he did not declare a national emergency, if a deal cannot be struck with Democrats to fund border barrier construction.
Trump told reporters at the White House before departing for Texas to view the U.S.-Mexico border that he has been advised by his legal counsel he has the absolute statutory right to declare a national emergency.
“I’m not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will,” the president said.
“If we don’t make a deal, I would say it would be very surprising to me declare a national emergency and just fund it through various mechanisms,” Trump explained.
He then gave his chances of making such a decision “100 percent” at this point, but then qualified his remarks saying, “maybe something else comes up.”
President Trump says he is nearing a decision to declare a national emergency on the southern border: “If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it, I would almost say definitely… This is a national emergency.” https://t.co/rbSTKtZLks pic.twitter.com/C07gjYnTX5
— CNN (@CNN) January 10, 2019
The president went on to accuse the Democratic leadership of not “giving a damn about crime.”
“There is no reason why we can’t come to a deal, but you have another side that doesn’t care about border security,” he said. “The Democrats, which I have been saying all along, don’t give a damn about crime.
“They don’t care about gang members coming in and stabbing and cutting people up.”
Trump’s remarks come a day after he walked out of a meeting with congressional leaders after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected any possibility of compromise on the issue of funding border barrier construction.
Trump on Democrats amid border wall clash:
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 10, 2019
The speaker described Trump’s behavior as “petulant.”
According to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump opened the meeting by turning the floor over to Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, asking what they would require in return for border security funding.
The two repeated a demand to reopen the government and said negotiations over border security could continue afterward.
“The president then turned to the speaker and politely asked her, ‘OK Nancy, if we open the government up, in 30 days could we have border security?’ She raised her hand and said ‘No, not at all,’” McCarthy recalled.
Trump responded, “I guess you still don’t want to deal with the problem.”
During his Tuesday night Oval Office address, the president sought to make the case there is a crisis at the southern border.
“In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings,” he said. “Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.”
Trump also pointed to the illegal drugs saying “vast quantities” of meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl are coming in from Mexico.
“Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.”
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there were a total of 521,000 apprehensions at the southwest border in Fiscal Year 2018.
The number of apprehensions surged in the first two months of FY 2019 to approximately 60,700 in October and 62,500 in November. Those figures represent an over 10,000 person-per-month increase compared to FY 2018.
President Obama, thank you for your great support – I have been saying this all along! pic.twitter.com/L506g9Aq4z
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2019
USA Today reported that presidents have broad powers to declare national emergencies.
“Congress can terminate a declared emergency, but it requires a joint resolution — a high hurdle,” the news outlet noted. “House Democrats, now in power, would have to convince Senate Republicans … to join them in blocking Trump’s move. Then they would have to get a signature from the president, the same person who declared the emergency in the first place, or override his veto.”
The other means those opposed to the border barrier would likely take is to seek an injunction stopping construction, probably in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has shown the greatest willingness to oppose the president’s policies, particularly on issues related to immigration.
The Trump administration would then almost certainly have to engage in a lengthy court battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it may or may not get a favorable ruling.
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