President Trump can build a border wall using the United States military to stop mass illegal immigration and drug trafficking without funding approval from Congress and without having to declare a national emergency.
During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood confirmed to Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) that Trump does not need Congress or a national emergency declaration to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The exchange went as follows:
BROOKS: I want to direct your attention to 10 United States Code § 284 which authorizes President Trump to deploy the United States military to the southern border to build fences and to do a lot of other things, and for clarity, if you look it up in the dictionary the word fence includes the word barrier and the word barrier includes walls made of a wide variety of different materials.
So that having been said, it seems to me that 10 U.S. Code § 284 can be used by the President of the United States to direct the United States military to build a wall. Now as of today, you’ve mentioned military forces along the southern border, have any of them been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284?
ROOD: Congressman, I don’t believe any of our forces have been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284. You are correct, however, that that use of authority would authorize the secretary of defense to erect barriers, roads, fencing, those types of materials to disrupt drug smuggling.
BROOKS: Does 10 U.S.C. § 284 as you understand it, require the declaration of a national emergency before it is implemented?
BROOKS: It does not?
BROOKS: Has President Trump, to your knowledge, ever used 10 U.S.C § 284 to direct the military to build the wall that is necessary for border security?
ROOD: No, not to my knowledge, Congressman.
BROOKS: If President Trump were to direct the Pentagon and the United States military pursuant to 10 U.S.C § 284 to build such barriers as are necessary to secure our southern border from drug trafficking and international crime cartels would the United States military obey that order?
ROOD: If we judge it to be a lawful order, yes sir. And I assume it would be.
For the past two years, Trump has asserted that he needs funding approval from Congress to build a wall at the southern border. This has resulted in the administration building the same steel bollard barriers that Presidents Bush and Obama built during their tenures.
The Trump administration’s main distinction, officials have said, is that their bollard fencing at the border is 30 feet high in some areas, about 10 feet higher than the barriers built under Obama.
Most recently, Trump reopened the federal government by signing a funding bill that continues government spending at current levels. The funding measure did not include any border wall funds and thus there have been no additional construction projects announced at the southern border.
While the spending bill will fund parts of the federal government through February 15, there are about at least 30,000 illegal border crossings that are expected to occur during the next few weeks.
This is equivalent to about a caravan of Central American and Mexican migrants crossing the border every day for the next 22 days.
The estimate could be upwards of 44,000 illegal border crossings for the next few weeks if there are 2,000 crossings a day, as there were in November 2018, the last month for which DHS has released total border crossings data. Federal immigration officials have said only about half of illegal aliens who cross the southern border are caught.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.