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Trump declares national emergency to fund additional $6.5B for southern border barriers

President Donald Trump makes a statement after taking a tour of border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego County, Calif., on March 13, 2018. (K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
February 15, 2019

President Donald Trump announced Friday he was declaring a national emergency in order to fund an additional $6.5 billion for southern border security, and he said the paperwork has been signed today.

Trump is seeking $6.5 billion in addition to what Congress has approved, which is $1.375 billion, for border security – totaling roughly $8 billion for more than 200 miles of steel border barriers. Congress’ funding provided for about 55 miles of barriers.

The funds will be redirected from the Pentagon and U.S. Treasury, the Washington Post reported.

Trump also intends to sign a funding bill that will keep the government open ahead of today’s deadline – but that would not provide the $5.7 billion he has steadfastly requested for border security.

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Democrats have said they would immediately challenge a national emergency declaration both legally and legislatively. Trump said Friday that top Democrats are engaged in a “con game” when it comes to the border wall.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border. One way or the other, we have to do it. Not only because it was a campaign promise, which it was – one of many, by the way,” Trump said Friday at a presser.

“I’m going to be signing a national emergency,” Trump said, pointing out that such measures have been signed before. “They [past presidents] sign it for far less important things in some cases; in many cases. We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”

Trump has said he would declare a national emergency to build the border wall if Congress doesn’t provide the funds for it. He has also said the U.S. “will build a Human Wall if necessary” at the southern border with Mexico.

Lawmakers this week tentatively came to a compromise on border security funding that averts a second government shutdown this year. It contains $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border fencing and funds 40,520 detention beds for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which was less than what Democrats originally requested.

The move was seen as a bipartisan compromise, but Trump declared he was “extremely unhappy” with the proposal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said Thursday that the President intends to sign the funding bill and at the same time issue an emergency declaration – a move that bypasses Congressional approval – in order to fully fund the southern border wall.

The government was partially shut down for 36 days – the longest stint in history – late last year into January of this year, until Trump signed a temporary 3-week funding measure that expires tonight at midnight.

Talks up until this week made it seem as if the country would be headed for another government shutdown, given the lack of concession and cooperation in Congress.

Trump recently re-opened the federal government after he and Congressional Democrats could not come to an agreement over border wall funding.

Trump wanted nearly $6 billion for border security that would include a wall, or steel slats, as he has pointed out.

Democrats have in the past refused to pass any appropriations bill that would include funding for a border wall.