Back in February, stymied by the refusal of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives –the branch of the U.S. government which controls the “purse strings” — to appropriate his requested $5+ billion funds for a border wall, President Trump declared a national emergency at our southern border so as to build the wall with defense funds.
Recall that 12 Republican senators joined every Demonrat senator in voting for a resolution to block Trump’s invocation of a national emergency, after the House had passed the resolution. President Trump promptly used his veto powers for the first time to overturn the Congressional resolution, calling it “reckless”.
Earlier, in a speech to the American people on January 8, 2019, Trump had sounded the alarm on threats to U.S. border security which should concern all Americans but not Democrats, which should tell you what their priorities are. Those threats include:
- In fiscal 2017, as many as 3,755 known or suspected terrorists entered the U.S.
- In fiscal 2018, which ended on Sept. 30, at the southern border:
- Customs and Border Protection agents caught 17,000 adults who had criminal records.
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement apprehended 6,000 members of gangs, including the violent MS-13.
- A 73% increase in fentanyl, one of the deadliest drugs, totaling 2,400 pounds.
- A 38% increase in methamphetamine.
- A 38% increase in heroin.
- 50 migrants a day required medical treatment.
- 31% of female migrants said they were sexually assaulted on the journey to the U.S.
6 months later, Trump is fulfilling his promise of using defense funds to build the wall.
On Sept. 3, 2019, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper informed Congress he had authorized $3.6 billion to be reallocated from the Pentagon budget so as to build more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The $3.6 billion will be used for 175 miles of a border wall. Currently, walls and fencing cover only about 654 miles of the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border. The first half of the $3,6 billion will be available immediately for transfer to the Department of Homeland Security.
Invoking a national emergency and calling the border walls to be built “military construction projects,” Defense Secretary Esper wrote in a letter addressed to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe:
Based on analysis and advice from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and input from the Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of the Interior and pursuant to the authority granted to me in Section 2808, I have determined that 11 military construction projects, along the international border with Mexico, with an estimated total cost of $3.6 billion, are necessary to support the use of the armed forces in connection with the national emergency. These projects will deter illegal entry, increase the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border, and channel migrants to ports of entry.
Esper also said the construction of the walls will allow Defense Department personnel to be redeployed to areas where more assistance is needed.
With tiresome predictability, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) criticized Esper for authorizing the military funds to be used for what Schumer calls President Trump’s “misguided border wall”. Schumer tweeted that Trump “is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego”.
Newly released Pentagon documents indicate the $3.6 billion will be reallocated from these military projects if Congress does not approve replacement funds:
- $1.8 billion originally slated for construction projects overseas.
- $8 million for the missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska, to add two missile interceptors as a backup for when the existing 40 interceptors undergo repair and maintenance.
- $26.1 million from the Navy’s ship maintenance facility in Portsmouth,Virginia.
- $88.9 million from another pier and maintenance facility at the Navy’s base in Kitsap, Washington.
- $38 million in military construction funding from Texas.
- $400 million in DoD projects to repair facilities in Puerto Rico damaged by Hurricane Maria two years ago.