Trump Declares National Emergency To Build Southern Border Wall

Vernon Young Jr. / DoD / U.S. Customs and Border Protection

WASHINGTON – President Donald J. Trump, calling the influx of illegal immigrants “an invasion” today declared a national emergency to build a southern border wall.

“We’re going to do it one way or another, we have to do it,” Trump said as he addressed the nation shortly after 10 a.m. Friday. He went on to say the country doesn’t control its own border and that it’s hard to make America great again with drugs and gangs coming across the southern border.

“We have a tremendous amount of drugs flowing into our country, much of it from our southern border,” Trump said.

In response to Trump’s declaration New York State Attorney General Letitia James said “Declaring a National Emergency without legitimate cause could create a Constitutional crisis. This action will harm Americans across the country by diverting funds necessary to handle real emergencies and real disasters to advance the President’s personal agenda. We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight back with every legal tool at our disposal.”

She did not explain how the Trump declaration would create a Constitutional crisis.

He said walls work.

“Everyone knows walls work.Take a look at Israel. They’re building another wall.Their wall is 99.9 percent effective they told me,” Trump said.

He said the wall will save money.

“If we had a wall we wouldn’t need the military (at the border) because we’d have a wall,”Trump said. He suggested the wall is a simple but important step.

“It’s not like it is complicated. It’s very simple. We want to stop drugs, we want to stop gangs from coming across our border,” Trump said.”We want to have a safe country.”

Trump said certain people could have come up with legislation for the wall years ago.

“Some people didn’t step up, now we’re stepping up,” he said.

“I expect to be sued, I shouldn’t be sued.”

“We fight all across the world to build borders for other countries but we don’t fight to build our own borders,” he said. “I went through Congress. I made a deal. I got $1.4 Billion. i wasn’t supposed to get a dollar, not one dollar, but i got $1.4 Billion.”

As Trump noted, several presidents have declared national emergencies in the past.

Among the national emergency declarations were:

In 1917, at the onset of America’s entry into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson declared an emergency related to shipping in an attempt to increase the country’s ability to transport food and raw materials by water.

In 1933, shortly after taking office during the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt used an emergency declaration to close banks, in an attempt to halt bank runs. The move gave Congress time to pass the Emergency Banking Act, which allowed banks to reopen once federal examiners decided they had enough money to operate.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon declared a national emergency to break a postal strike, using the National Guard to deliver the mail. The strike ended a week later, when the federal government agreed to a retroactive pay raise. Still, Nixon’s invocation of emergency powers in this case drew the scrutiny of Congress, not unlike Democrats have promised today.

In 1971, Nixon invoked his emergency powers again, this time to impose a 10 percent duty on imports, as part of his administration’s push to take the country off the gold standard. The surcharge on existing tariffs was in effect for four months, and applied to consumer and manufactured goods such as appliances, home furnishings, liquors, automobiles, machinery, and other items, according to a 1974 article in the New York Times, which said importers were allowed to pass on the cost of the extra duty to consumers. The Supreme Court later ruled that Nixon had exceeded his powers.

In 1976, Congress passed a bill putting rules around a president’s emergency powers. That measure, called the National Emergencies Act, said that emergency declarations would terminate after one year unless the president continued them, and imposed some reporting requirements on the executive.

But the president’s ability to assume broad powers on the basis of a declared emergency remained and the legislation hasn’t seemed to slow the use of those powers:

In 1993, President Bill Clinton declared that the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons constituted a national emergency, and ordered his officials to stop Americans from “participation in activities that could contribute” to that proliferation.

Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush declared a national emergency “blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism.” While the measure was framed as cutting off money to foreign sponsors of terrorism, it applied to Americans as well.

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