DEM Chair of House Armed Services Committee Says President Has Authority to Declare National Emergency and Build Wall

Flags hang on the International border wall Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010 in Hereford, Ariz. at a United Border Coalition Tea Party Rally. Conservative tea party activists gathered along a remote stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Nogales.(AP Photo/Matt York)

He certainly doesn’t look too happy about it though.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) appeared on ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ program on Sunday and was asked if President Trump had “the authority to declare a national emergency and have the military build his wall?”

Well, unfortunately, the short answer is yes. There is a provision in the law that says the president can declare an emergency. It’s been done a number of times, but primarily it’s been done to build facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, where is the emergency? You have to establish that in order to do this. Beyond that, this would be a terrible use of Department of Defense dollars.

The president spends most of his time talking about how we’re not spending enough on national security, now he wants to take $20 billion out of defense budget to build a wall. Which by the way, is not going to improve our border security. The president seems unaware of this, but we have actually already built a wall across much of the border, and all border security experts that I talk to say, where a wall makes sense, it’s already been built. We should have a conversation about border security, but first, we should we re-open the government and pay our border patrol agents and the federal agents that are furloughed.

The bottom line is that, yes, Trump does have the authority to go this route. If he is unable to reach a compromise with Democrats, he may be forced to go this route. Trump has so much political capital invested in this border wall that if he were to cave to the Democrats, it really would be the end of his presidency as Lindsey Graham has said.

Smith said that Trump’s declaration of a national emergency would leave him wide open to a court challenge. Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be difficult to prove that illegal immigration has created an emergency situation at our southern border and throughout our country. He needs to get this done and then worry about the repercussions. That’s what a Democrat would do under similar circumstances. As Obama will tell you, elections have consequences.

Wisely, Trump is planning to make use of the bully pulpit tonight as he should. He will take his case to the American people, most of whom are already concerned about illegal immigration. I cited a new poll in my previous post.

A new Economist/YouGov survey “gauged the level of concern Americans have on the issue to find that only 7 percent of the overall public say illegal immigration is “not a problem”; 2 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of independents and even 12 percent of Democrats agree with the statement.”

88% of Democrats, 93% of independents and 98% of Republicans in America believe that illegal immigration is a problem. They may not agree that a wall is the solution, but they obviously believe that something must be done.

Hopefully, Trump will deliver a powerful address tonight which will bring Democrats back to the bargaining table. If not, he has an acceptable alternative.