National Security

Trump Holds Off on Declaring Border Emergency During State of the Union

Yet he mentioned 'urgent national crisis' and the need to secure 'dangerous' area

Image Credit: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump proved concerns that he would declare a state of emergency unfounded on Tuesday night during his State of the Union address.

Trump has been in an ongoing political fight over border security funding.

He started entertaining the idea of declaring a state of emergency to get the funds for a border wall during a recent partial government shutdown caused by the dispute.

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He further stoked media reports that he might do so by telling reporters to watch the State of the Union closely when asked if he would.

But any such announcement about a national emergency never came to pass in the address. He did reaffirm his commitment to securing the border with a wall during the roughly hour-long speech. He also still has the option to declare a state of emergency, though such a move would lead to unknown legal territory and likely result in lawsuits.

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He’s long said he’d prefer to work with lawmakers on a joint solution to the problem.

“Now Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis,” Trump declared in his address. “Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland and secure our very dangerous southern border.”

Related: Trump: Congress Has a ‘Moral Duty’ to Address ‘National Crisis’ at the Border

Trump has discussed the possibility of declaring an emergency along the southern border during several recent press conferences. But he has held off in the hope lawmakers will be able to come up with a deal that satisfies all sides.

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The move could possibly allow the president to free up billions in emergency funds for the security wall through the National Emergencies Act.

Trump said late last year he wouldn’t sign any more spending bills that didn’t include $5.7 billion for the border wall.

Democratic leaders opposed providing any funding for the wall — which led both sides to cause the partial government shutdown on December 22. But he eventually backed way from his veto threat by signing the short-term spending bill on January 25.

The spending bill reopened the government for another three weeks to give both sides time to negotiate a deal on border security.

But while the government is reopened, for now, another shutdown could be right around the corner. The House and Senate formed a conference committee that is tasked with reaching a deal on border security before the next shutdown deadline of February 15.

Some House Democrats have been pushing for legislation that would restrict how the president could use emergency funds. There is also the chance some Democrats might seek to sue the administration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would make a decision on such legislation once he sees it.

“We don’t know what route the president is going to take, so I’m not going to speculate on it at this point,” McConnell said during a press conference on Tuesday. “It is an expedited procedure with a simple majority and there is some time delay associated with it, assuming it comes over from the House. But I’m going to withhold judgment on that to see what he does.”

Trump stressed the importance of having a border wall throughout the earlier shutdown.

He argued the wall is critical to deterring illegal drugs and criminal gangs from coming into this country during his visit to the border back on January 10.

He has made similar arguments during press conferences during the shutdown as well.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has closely watched the situation at the border unravel over the last year. But it’s a situation, the group says, that has been a long time in the making.

FAIR also released a study on Sunday showing that illegal aliens are, on average, incarcerated at three times the rate of legal residents.

“The humanitarian and public safety crisis we’re experiencing is not a new phenomenon, but something that has been going on for years,” FAIR spokesman Dave Ray told LifeZette. “It was only after President Trump put the national spotlight on the problem that the public has become fully aware of the size and scope of [it]. The lack of a border wall in key areas — something Border Patrol agents insist will help them secure the border — combined with rampant asylum abuse has created an ongoing and unmanageable border crisis that incentivizes illegal immigration.”

Trump has also argued that the situation along the border constitutes a crisis. He has faced several migrant caravans over the past year that have sometimes included thousands of people — with many seeking asylum.

But the surge of migrants has caused tensions along the southern border and has worsened the already contentious policy dispute among lawmakers.

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