President Trump’s administration is preparing a draft proclamation so that the president can declare a national emergency along the southern border. They have identified more than $7 billion in potential funds for Trump’s promised border wall. This is a possible route for the president to take, according to internal documents reviewed by CNN News.
Trump has not ruled out using his authority to declare a national emergency and direct the Defense Department to construct a border wall. Congress and the White House continue to fight over a deal to end the government shutdown. Trump’s advisers remain divided on this issue, but the White House has been moving forward with alternative plans that would bypass Congress.
“The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency,” a draft of a presidential proclamation reads.
“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 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,” the draft adds.
According to options being mulled over, the administration could extract: $681 million from Treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $200 million in Department of Homeland Security funds, the official said.
Trump raised the prospect of other ways to fund a border wall without congressional approval this week.
“I have other alternatives if I have to and I’ll use those alternatives if I have to,” he told reporters.
“A lot of people who wants this to happen. The military wants this to happen. This is a virtual invasion of our country,” Trump said.
If the declaration is made, the US Army Corps of Engineers would be deployed to construct the wall, some of which could be built on private property and would therefore require the administration to seize the land, which is permitted if it’s for public use.
If the President continues with the declaration, it will likely be challenged in court and by Democrats in Congress. Critics have argued that Trump cannot use the national emergency authority to free up taxpayer funds and build the border wall he has long promised his political supporters.
The question of legality and court challenges is still one of the main barriers in using executive action to secure the wall funding. Trump’s advisers have cautioned that taking that route would lead to certain legal challenge, meaning the wall construction would still be delayed.
Customs and Border Protection has said that it would consider eminent domain in the future.
“It is always CBP’s preference to acquire property through a voluntary, negotiated sale. The Government will attempt to negotiate an offer to sell using survey data and value estimates gleaned from the surveying process,” reads an excerpt in a border wall Q&A on their site. “The Government will attempt to negotiate an offer to sell before moving forward with exercising eminent domain. However, if the Government and landowner are unable to reach a negotiated sale or if the Government is unable to obtain clean title, the Government will need to file an eminent domain action.”