The White House is set to move forward in accordance with President Trump’s national emergency declaration as it recently announced the construction of 234 more miles of the border wall along the United States-Mexico border.
The major construction project will use $8 billion—a much larger sum than the $5.7 billion Trump was initially requesting—of previously-appropriated funds, the Washington Examiner reports. According to the report, the figure comes from unidentified senior administration officials who provided the details to the publication.
On Friday, Trump announced his intention to declare a national emergency during a signing ceremony at the White House Rose Garden.
From the report:
Trump’s move faces near-certain legal action, including from immigrant groups and land conservation organizations. House Democrats say they’ll try to block the move in Congress and will sue if that doesn’t work.
Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters Friday the executive branch is not touching Army Corps money for disaster relief projects in parts of the country that are still recovering from severe hurricanes and wildfires in 2017 and 2018.
In addition to the money Congress gave Trump through the spending measure, he is using $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug interdiction program; and $3.5 billion from a military construction fund.
Besides immediately spurring legal challenges, the emergency declaration raised questions of presidential precedents and whether future presidents could circumvent Congress and its law-making constitutional authority.
Mulvaney blamed Congress for failing to give Trump the $5.7 billion he requested in December, but said Trump’s emergency declaration is legal. Mulvaney added he does not think it will create a new precedent for future presidents to grab money by circumventing Congress.
Since 1976, presidents have cited their authority under the National Emergencies Act 58 times to approve and fund executive projects that were a matter of national security, an administration official said.
Administration officials could not list parts of the nearly 2,000-mile border where the steel, bollard wall is planned. One official said the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection will look at which Border Patrol sectors saw the highest levels of illegal entries and drug smuggling.
According to the report, the entirety of the $8 billion will not be spent immediately or directly on the border wall. The Washington Examiner reports “most of the $8 billion will not be spent immediately and will go toward low priority military construction projects.”
This figure “includes repairs to the barrier that can wait to be done for a few months, or even until 2020.”
The report continued: “New or enhanced barriers would be put in at areas with the highest levels of illegal immigration, including the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, San Diego, Calif., El Centro, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz.”
As BizPac Review reports, within hours of President Trump’s address “liberal activist group Public Citizen filed the first lawsuit against President Trump to block his national emergency declaration to build a border wall.”
During President Trump’s address, he said he was expecting legal challenges as the Justice Department previously warned him of the impending lawsuits.
“The Justice Department has warned the White House a national emergency declaration is nearly certain to be blocked by the courts on, at least, a temporary basis, preventing the immediate implementation of the president’s plan to circumvent Congress and build the wall using his executive powers,” ABC News reported on Friday.
According to the report, the Trump administration may pursue the legal fight confident that they could win an appealing argument.
BizPac Review reports: “In the Feb. 15 complaint filed by Public Citizen on behalf of the Frontera Audubon Society and three landowners in South Texas, the lawsuit claims President Trump exceeded his constitutional authority.”
So, the legal fight is on.