U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that he would consider declaration of a national emergency as the path forward to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border because he didn’t think lawmakers’ negotiations would produce the necessary funds.
“We will be looking at a national emergency because I don’t think anything is going to happen. I think Democrats don’t want border security. And when I hear them talking about the fact that walls are immoral, walls don’t work — they know they work,” Trump said.
On Thursday, the president called bipartisan congressional talks over border wall funding a “waste of time.”
‘I’ve set the table’
In a White House interview with The New York Times on Thursday, Trump again hinted he might declare a national emergency in order to bypass Congress and build the wall without its approval.
“I’ll continue to build the wall and we’ll get the wall finished. Now, whether or not I declare a national emergency, that you’ll see … I’ve set the table, I’ve set the stage for doing what I’m going to do.”
If within two weeks lawmakers can’t reach a deal on border security that Trump would sign, there could be another government shutdown.
If Trump does declare a national emergency, Democrats who don’t want any money for a border wall will probably immediately challenge Trump in court.
The president had strong words for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has repeatedly said she will not agree to give Trump the $5.7 billion he wants for a wall.
“I think Nancy Pelosi is hurting our country very badly by doing what she’s doing,” Trump said, adding that while he has always gotten along with her, “I don’t think I will anymore.”
Pelosi has said she is open to other kinds of barriers along the border, but Trump said alternatives were unacceptable.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it was sending an additional 3,500 troops to the U.S. southern border with Mexico to assist with security measures.
Rep. Adam Smith, the Washington state Democrat who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released the latest troop numbers after slamming the Pentagon’s lack of transparency in a letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
A defense official confirmed that the Pentagon was sending 3,500 additional active-duty troops to the border, for a total of 5,800 active-duty troops and 2,300 National Guard troops supporting the Department of Homeland Security’s request for additional border security.
The official, who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity, added that this “initial pop” in the number of troops would not be sustained through September.
How they’ll be used
Some of these 3,500 will be replacing troops who will be leaving soon, while others are being assigned to the border for only 30 or 60 days in order to set up large coils of barbed wire in specific areas, according to the official.
Without giving details, Trump tweeted Thursday: “More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted Invasion of Illegals, through large caravans, into our Country. We have stopped the previous Caravans, and we will stop these also. With a Wall it would be soooo much easier and less expensive.”
Trump, as he often has, claimed erroneously that “Large sections of WALL have already been built with much more either under construction or ready to go.” The U.S. has been repairing existing barriers, which Trump called “a very big part of the plan to finally, after many decades, properly Secure Our Border. The Wall is getting done one way or the other!”
At various times, Trump has called the barriers at the border an impenetrable concrete wall, and other times “steel slats,” or a see-through barrier.
On Thursday, though, Trump said, “Let’s just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!”