WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said there is a “good chance” he’ll declare a national emergency to build his proposed border wall and said he would use his State of the Union address next week to once again make a case for the barrier.
“I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to do that,” he said of the declaration, which he has threatened for weeks. “We have very strong legal standing.”
The emergency declaration could help the Trump administration free up billions of dollars in construction money for the wall, but it will also almost certainly face legal challenges that could redefine the president’s ability to use emergency powers.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working against a Feb. 15 deadline to produce a deal to fund the government and avoid another shutdown. Trump has demanded the final product include funding for his proposed border wall but has also said Republicans on the committee are “wasting their time” trying to negotiate with Democrats.
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In one of his few public appearances this week, the president met in the Oval Office with officials from the Department of Homeland Security as well as advocates working on human trafficking. To make the case for his proposed border wall, Trump has often lamented what he has described as a crisis of human trafficking across the border.
“People have no idea how bad it’s become,” Trump said. “The case for building a wall is everything.”
Human trafficking is problem at the border, but advocates have questioned some of the president’s more colorful descriptions of that issue – such as his assertion women are brought over the border bound with duct tape. The Human Trafficking Legal Center found a large number of trafficking victims were not entering the country illegally but rather had contracts to work as seasonal agricultural workers and domestic workers.
The president is set to depart the White House on Friday afternoon for his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his first visit there since Thanksgiving.