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Trump declares National Emergency over immigration ‘crisis’

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on border security during a Rose Garden event at the White House February 15, 2019 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on border security during a Rose Garden event at the White House February 15, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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President Donald Trump announced Friday that he will declare a national emergency to fulfill his pledge to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump said he will use executive powers to bypass Congress, which approved far less money for his proposed wall than he had sought. He plans to siphon billions of dollars from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts for the wall. The move is already drawing bipartisan criticism on Capitol Hill and expected to face rounds of legal challenges.

"I am going to be signing a national emergency," Trump said from the Rose Garden, as he claimed illegal immigration marked "an invasion of our country."

In a rare show of bipartisanship, lawmakers voted Thursday to fund large swaths of the government and avoid a repeat of this winter's debilitating five-week government shutdown. The money in the bill for border barriers, about $1.4 billion, is far below the $5.7 billion Trump insisted he needed and would finance just a quarter of the 200-plus miles (322 kilometers) he wanted this year.

To bridge the gap, Trump announced that he will be spending roughly $8 billion on border barriers - combining the money approved by Congress with funding he plans to repurpose through executive actions, including the national emergency. The money is expected to come from funds targeted for military construction and counterdrug efforts, but aides could not immediately specify which military projects would be affected.

Despite widespread opposition in Congress to proclaiming an emergency, including by some Republicans, Trump was responding to pressure to act unilaterally to soothe his conservative base and avoid appearing like he's lost his wall battle.

With files from the Associated Press.

Professor Gulasekaram wanted to clarify his on-air statement that relatively few drugs come through between ports of entry. "The majority of heroin and fentanyl entering the country comes through ports of entry. Only a small percentage enters in between ports of entry, and the great majority of that occurs in the San Diego border sector, which is already heavily fortified. The majority of cocaine seizures occur at ports of entry and border patrol checkpoints, and not at illicit border crossings. In addition, the majority of cocaine enters the country through the San Diego sector - which, again, is already fenced." This info can be found in the 2018 DEA Report


Molly O'Toole, DC-based immigration and security reporter at the Los Angeles Times; she tweets @mollymotoole

Pratheepan Gulasekaram, professor of law at Santa Clara Law, where he specializes in constitutional and immigration law

Josh Blackman, associate professor of law at the South Texas College of Law Houston who specializes in constitutional law and the U.S. Supreme Court; author of "Unraveled: Obamacare, Religious Liberty, and Executive Power" (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Sean T. Walsh, Republican political analyst and partner at Wilson Walsh Consulting in San Francisco; he is a former adviser to California Governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger and a former White House staffer for Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush

Matt Rodriguez, Democratic strategist and founder and chief executive officer of Rodriguez Strategies. He is also a former senior Obama advisor in 2008; he tweets @RodStrategies

Rafael Carranza, reporter covering the U.S.-Mexico border for The Arizona Republic and the USA Today Network; he tweets @RafaelCarranza

Julián Aguilar, immigration and border security reporter at the Texas Tribune; he tweets @nachoaguilar