President Trump can build a border wall using the United States military to stop mass illegal immigration and drug trafficking without funding approval from Congress and without having to declare a national emergency.
During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood confirmed to Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) that Trump does not need Congress or a national emergency declaration to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The exchange went as follows:
BROOKS: I want to direct your attention to 10 United States Code § 284 which authorizes President Trump to deploy the United States military to the southern border to build fences and to do a lot of other things, and 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 wide 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 a wall. Now as of today, you’ve mentioned military forces along the southern border, have any of them been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284?
ROOD: Congressman, I don’t believe any of our forces have been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284. You are correct, however, that that use of authority would authorize the secretary of defense to erect barriers, roads, fencing, those types of materials to disrupt drug smuggling.
BROOKS: Does 10 U.S.C. § 284 as you understand it, require the declaration of a national emergency before it is implemented?
BROOKS: It does not?
BROOKS: Has President Trump, to your knowledge, ever used 10 U.S.C § 284 to direct the military to build the wall that is necessary for border security?
ROOD: No, not to my knowledge, Congressman.
BROOKS: If President Trump were to direct the Pentagon and the United States military pursuant to 10 U.S.C § 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?
ROOD: If we judge it to be a lawful order, yes sir. And I assume it would be.