The White House is preparing a draft proclamation for President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency along the US-Mexico border and has identified more than $7 billion in potential funds for his border wall should he go that route, according to internal documents.
Trump has not ruled out using his authority to declare a national emergency and direct the Defence Department to construct a border wall as Congress and the White House were still at an impasse over a deal to end the government shutdown, CNN reported on Friday.
But while Trump’s advisers remain divided on the issue, the White House has been moving forward with alternative plans that would bypass Congress.
“The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the US each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency,” a draft of a presidential proclamation reads.
“Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Emergencies Act, hereby declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States,” the draft adds.
If the declaration is made, the US Army Corps of Engineers would be deployed to construct the wall, some of which could be built on private property and would therefore require the administration to seize the land, which is permitted if it’s for public use.
The draft was updated as recently as last week, a US government official told CNN on Thursday night.
According to options being considered, the administration could pull $681 million from Treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds and $200 million in Department of Homeland Security funds, the official said.
The development comes after the US Senate on Thursday rejected two proposals, one by the Republicans and the other by Democrats, to fully reopen the federal government, which has been partially shut down since December 22.
Neither bill received the required 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate, where the Republicans hold a majority.
Earlier in the day, Trump again raised the prospect of other ways to fund a border wall without congressional approval, CNN reports.
“I have other alternatives if I have to and I’ll use those alternatives if I have to,” he told the media.
“A lot of people who wants this to happen. The military wants this to happen. This is a virtual invasion of our country.”
If the President proceeds with the declaration, it will likely be challenged in court and by Democrats in Congress.
Trump’s advisers have cautioned that taking that route would lead to certain legal challenge, meaning the wall construction would still be delayed.