Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, delivered a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday urging President Donald Trump to declare a State of Emergency, send troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and build a wall.
“In Fiscal Year 2018, more than 2,000 illegal aliens were apprehended by federal agents for homicides committed on American soil,” Brooks said. “In addition, over 70,000 Americans are killed each year by poisonous drugs, much of which is shipped illegally into America across our porous Southern border by illegal aliens, MS-13 and other drug cartels. Stronger border security, which must include wall construction, will save thousands of American lives every year.”
Congressional Democrats have largely blocked the president’s ambitious border wall agenda.
“Unfortunately, in the worst betrayal of America in history, Socialist Democrats, motivated by a lust for political power, selfishly elevate illegal aliens over American citizens because illegal alien families overwhelming rely on welfare, thus making them highly reliable Democrat voters who elect Socialist Democrat politicians by diluting the votes of American citizens,” Brooks saidd. “Inasmuch as Socialist Democrats refuse to protect American lives from illegal alien homicides, drug deaths and America’s porous Southern border, I urge President Trump to secure our borders and build the wall under existing law and presidential powers.”
The Constitution gives the Congress the sole power to appropriate money. Some conservative lawmakers and Trump administration voices argue that statutes including one from 1976 have given the president executive authority to appropriate the money himself if he declares a state of emergency.
“For example, Title 10, Section 284 of the United States Code empowers presidents to order America’s military to assist federal drug and law enforcement agencies in the fight against drug and transnational organized crime,” Brooks said. “Pursuant to this law, the president may deploy active military and National Guard troops to establish and operate bases of operations, detect and monitor surface traffic in Mexico and in the United States within 25 miles of the Southern border, construct roads, fences, barriers and lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across the Southern border and use aerial and ground reconnaissance.”
“This federal law empowers President Trump to order America’s military to construct walls and barriers to block drug smuggling corridors, with the side benefit of stopping illegal aliens,” Brooks continued. “Another example of existing presidential authority is the power to declare a national emergency and divert Congressionally appropriated money to border security and wall construction. America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan based on 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed roughly 3,000 people. In response, America spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of lives in military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“While 9/11 was horrible, 9/11 deaths pale in comparison to hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead, or will die, over the years because of illegal alien homicides and overdoses caused by deadly drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border,”Brooks said. “For emphasis, a minimum of 50 Americans die each day we delay securing our southern border. That is a minimum of 15,000 dead Americans each year. That death rate easily justifies a presidential declaration of a national emergency. In fact, not one of the 58 national emergencies declared by a president since 1979 is supported by a worse death rate or threat to America and American lives.”
“An extraordinarily weak and conflicted Congress is of no help. Worse yet, this Congress is a hindrance,” Brooks charged. “As such, I urge President Trump, as America’s commander in chief, to invoke Title 10, United States Code Section 284, to declare a national emergency and to use every other statutory and Constitutional power he possesses to direct the military to secure our Southern border, build the wall and protect and save American lives.”
In December, Trump refused to sign legislation to keep the government fully funded unless $5.7 billion in funding was included so that he could build the border wall that he promised in the 2016 campaign. Congressional Democrats balked at this and refused the funding. There was a 35-day partial government shutdown that left 800,000 federal workers, over half of them still on the job, unpaid. The deal that Congress will vote on today to fully fund the government going forward does include some border wall funding, but only 23.8 percent of what the president had requested.
Some constitutional scholars argue that the president does have the authority to build the wall under a declared State of Emergency. Others argue that the president has no power to arbitrarily appropriate money to one of his pet projects, especially when the Congress has considered his request and found his request to be lacking, and if he were to do so, that would be a constitutional crisis. Most acknowledge that if the president were to attempt it, it would be appealed to the courts where a precedent would be set one way or the other.
Some argue that it would be a dangerous expansion of presidential power. What would prevent future presidents from declaring a state of emergency to fight global warming? Poverty? Homelessness? Healthcare reform?
Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District. He has served the people of this state as a congressman for five terms as a county commissioner, a state legislator and as a prosecutor.
Later in the day, it was announced that Trump will be declaring a state of emergency in order to build the border wall.
Original reporting by Bloomberg News, CNN and Fox News contributed to this report.