Donald Trump declares national emergency to free up billions of dollars for border wall

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump Friday declared a national emergency to free up billions of dollars for a border wall, a highly controversial move that Democrats and some Republicans have criticized as an overreach of his power.

The announcement, made in the White House Rose Garden, came as Trump was preparing to sign a bill that prevents another government shutdown and also provides $1.375 billion for border fencing – far less than the $5.7 billion the president had demanded for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or another," Trump said.

The emergency declaration is expected to create an extended legal and political battle. Democrats, who are calling it an abuse of power, plan to take up a resolution in Congress to thwart Trump's action – although their measure would likely face a presidential veto.

 

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But Trump noted that national declarations have been signed by other presidents, “for far less important things in many cases.”

White House aides said Trump will have $8 billion in total for the wall, including the money Congress approved as well as funds he is tapping from the Pentagon and other sources. Some of that money he can access only through the use of the national emergency.

Trump said his push for a wall is "not complicated."

"It's very simple: we want to stop drugs from coming into our country, we want to stop gangs from coming into our country," he said.

Legal challenges to the emergency declaration could delay construction of Trump's proposed border wall, but the battle would give Trump a potent political issue to run on in the 2020 presidential election.