Rep. Brooks: Existing Law Grants President Authority to Build Wall

Trump can order military to build without declaring national emergency

Image Credits: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images.

President Trump can immediately order the military to build a barrier along the southern border under existing laws, according to analysis presented by Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)

Rep. Brooks made his case during a hearing of the Armed Services Committee, citing U.S. Code pertaining to “Support for counterdrug activities and activities to counter transnational organized crime.”

Rep. Brooks laid the foundation for his argument by pointing to the loss of American lives at the hands of illegal aliens — roughly 2,000 in fiscal year 2018 — as well as internationally trafficked drugs, which contribute to a “substantial portion” of some 70,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. every year.

“In terms of lost American lives, our porous southern border, combined with the homicides of illegal aliens, far exceeds the loss of lives caused by 9/11,” Brooks said. “With that as a backdrop, I want to direct your attention to 10 United States Code 284 which authorizes President Trump to deploy the military to the southern border to build fences.”

“For clarity, if you look it up in the dictionary, the word ‘fence’ includes the word ‘barrier,’ and the word ‘barrier’ includes walls made of a variety of different materials. So that having been said, it seems to me that 10 U.S. Code 284 can be used by the President of the United States to direct the United States military to build the wall.”

Rep. Brooks followed with a line of questioning directed at John C. Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, who effectively agreed with Rep. Brooks’s reasoning and confirmed his interpretations of the Code’s provisions.

According to Under Secretary Rood, President Trump has not yet utilized 10 U.S. Code 284, but can do so without declaring a national emergency.

“If President Trump were to direct the Pentagon, the United States military, pursuant to 10 U.S. Code 284, to build such barriers as are necessary to secure our southern border from drug trafficking and international crime cartels, would the United States military obey that order?” Rep. Brooks asked in conclusion.

“If we judged it to be a lawful order, yes sir,” Under Secretary Rood responded. “And I assume it would be.”


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