Trump’s Idea of Using Military Resources for Border Wall Isn’t Unprecedented

Trump trade deals energy military resources borderThe military has been involved before in putting up a barrier along the U.S.-Mexican border without explicit authorization from Congress, according to a 2009 government report.

President Donald Trump recently proposed to draw from the $700 billion appropriated for the military for funds to build the border wall, which comes with a price tag estimated at $25 billion.

Initial fencing constructed after Congress passed the 2006 Secure Fence Act was paid for by the Department of Homeland Security, while engineering and labor was carried out through an agreement with the Defense Department.

It isn’t clear whether this is what Trump had in mind.

The precedent means that military involvement would not be unheard of, said Art Arthur, resident fellow for law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, an immigration policy think tank.

“The military can’t enforce immigration laws inside the United States, but it can help fortify the border as a national defense issue,” Arthur, the former general counsel at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now Immigration and Customs Enforcement) told The Daily Signal.

Entering a church service Easter Sunday, the president talked to reporters about problems at the southern border.

“Mexico has got to help us at the border,” he said. “If they’re not going to help us at the border, it’s a very sad thing between our two countries.”

Trump tweeted Monday morning:

Speaking Thursday in Richfield, Ohio, Trump said: “We started our wall—what a thing of beauty. … We’re getting that sucker built.”

Trump recently signed an omnibus spending bill that allocated $1.6 billion for 33 miles of border fencing. Days later, the president suggested in a tweet that money from the defense budget could be used for the wall since its construction is a matter of national security.

Keeping drugs, weapons and contraband, and criminals out of the country likely could be classified as an act of national defense, Arthur said.

“The wall is not just about illegal aliens. The border is about more than illegal aliens,” Arthur said. “The border is like the skin of the country. If something penetrates that skin, it gets inside.”

Trump reportedly talked to Defense Secretary James Mattis about using defense dollars to pay for building the wall. The Pentagon has not characterized the retired Marine general’s reaction.

The question is whether drawing on the defense funds requires an act of Congress. Opponents of the president, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., insist it does.

Others, such as Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a constitutional conservative and frequent critic of executive overreach, are cautious about weighing in.

“We would have to see the specific statutory authority they claimed justified it,” Lee spokesman Conn Carroll told The Daily Signal.

Trump did not specify how he would use Pentagon money for the wall construction, since enforcing immigration law is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security.

But the two departments previously worked together, according to the report by the Congressional Research Service during President Barack Obama’s first year in office.

Essentially, Customs and Border Protection provided money and land, while divisions of the Defense Department provided design and labor.

The report states that Customs and Border Protection entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Engineering and Construction Support Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The National Guard and a military task force also were involved, the report says:

The ECSO [Engineering and Construction Support Office] manages several components of the construction process for CBP [Customs and Border Protection], including planning and acquisition of real estate; drafting the environmental protection plan; designing the project and formulating the engineering costs; overseeing the construction process; and enforcing the appropriate warranties.

On most of the tactical infrastructure projects, National Guard units and military units from the Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Task Force North provide the labor. DOD uses these projects as part of their training regimen, leveraging their ability to deploy tactical infrastructure and thereby providing zero labor costs to CBP.

The agreement saved taxpayer dollars, as Homeland Security did not have to procure commercial contractors and provided training to military personnel on building barriers in combat zones.

However, in its fiscal year 2007 budget request, Customs and Border Protection request the use of private contractor to expedite completion of portions of the border fencing.

Under the agreement, Customs and Border Protection bought materials and acquired the land, and the Army Corps of Engineers did engineering studies and provided manpower and machinery used to install the fencing.

“The actual manpower is typically provided by the State National Guard (the California National Guard, for example, constructed much of the San Diego fence), although occasionally the military, and sometimes the USBP [Border Patrol], are involved in the construction,” the Congressional Research Service report says.

The Congressional Research Service is a nonpartisan research and investigative office on Capitol Hill that responds to requests from members of Congress.

Asked March 27 about the potential for military funding for the wall, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to provide details.

“I can’t get into the specifics of that at this point,” Sanders told reporters, “but I can tell you that the continuation of building the wall is ongoing, and we’re going to continue moving forward in that process.”

There isn’t enough information available to determine whether using military money to build a wall—absent congressional authorization—would be constitutional, said Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

“It would depend entirely on which pot of money at DOD the president wants to use, and what the rules are regarding that money as laid out in the appropriations bill that provided the money,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal.

Building a wall along the southern border is likely beyond the capacity of the Army Corps of Engineers, said Arthur, the fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. The U.S. has built some physical barrier along about one-third of the 1,933-mile border.

From - The Daily Signal - by Fred Lucas

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4 years ago

Build the WALL

Mary Sergiacomi
5 years ago

I think Trump has no choice but to use Military Resources for the Border Wall since it seems all other attempts for building the Wall have been hi-jacked by the Liberals and other clueless people in Congress.
I’m no military person but I do know that whenever a country is attacked, the first order of business is to secure its borders. Obviously we are being attacked by infiltration of drug traffickers, illegal aliens and criminals….to say nothing of how many lone terrorists have breached our borders!
People should take note that ANY country that does not have secure borders, ceases to be a country! The same situation applies to America.

michael failla
5 years ago

Trump is the only one fighting for you and i, mr. average citizen. All i see is republicans in name only and leftist democrats saying you cant do this. We are under invasion and the president primary job is to protect the citizens of this country. Call their bluff and build it. It is for defense just as surely as if some military entity has done it. I recall mexico has ended up on the wrong side of our borders a time or two. Build and stop all the b s from schumer and this other goof ball. You can sign me FED UP!~

5 years ago

YES!!!!!! Defense is the boarder wall!

5 years ago

A lot of the manual labor could be done by the Mexicans overcrowding our prisons. Putting them to work will help President Trump say that Mexico truly did help build the wall!

5 years ago

I’m all for it! We protect other countries borders, why not our own? I’ve been in favor of putting our military forces on our borders for years now. Thank God we finally have a President who is brave enough to put America and her citizens first! Thank you President Trump!!!

Paul W
5 years ago

Just do it already! Locking my door at night doesn’t mean that I hate everyone outside…it means I love the ones inside. The left needs a voting bloc…and they’ll completely trash our house to get it. Lock the damned door…NOW!

Paul W
5 years ago

Just do it already! Locking my door at night doesn’t mean that I hate everyone outside…it means I love the ones inside. The left needs a voting bloc…and they’ll completely trash our house to get it. Lock the damn door…NOW!

5 years ago

Until Wall is built, use the National Guard on the border. If Mexico refuses to help curb the people coming, just let Mexico know that money used on the border wall will be taken out of the billions we give them every year.

Martin Steed
5 years ago

Just CLOSE the damned border! Good training for the troops that go and guard the border of Iraq and Iran. Of course some liberal judge will crawl out from under a rock and issue a stay, but just IGNORE the ruling. What’s he going to do??????? I forget which president said it, but when asked about a judge ruling against him, he simply asked how many troops the judge commanded. On building the wall, there is Ted Cruz’s idea of using confiscated drug money to build the wall. I think the President could issue an executive order to use 25 billion of the gazillion dollars confiscated from el champo or whoever it was and just go build the wall. Do what Obama did; just do it and let the Dems soil themselves. They will cry, whine and file law suits. Great! Ignore it all, drag out the court dates, counter sue, but just keep building. Pay no attention to stays or orders from some liberal judge in Hawaii, or Illinois. By the time it gets to the Supremes, the wall will be complete. Then the vote will have to be to tear it down. All you have to do is think like a democrat. All’s fair as l long as you are advancing your agenda.

Sharon Fultz
5 years ago
Reply to  Martin Steed

Thank you Martin Steed. I have been saying this for ever! If the previous administration can you use executive order then I think it is PAST TIME for Trump to do it. People are getting sick of Dems and RINOS fighting him every step of the way. They don’t care about the people of the US. Just what they can do for themselves and their pockets. It is time to fight for the US! MAGA!!! It is a scary thought who and what comes across the border.

Wayne Peterkin
5 years ago

The simple truth is that border security is a national security issue even more than an immigration issue. The human and drug trafficking coupled with possible infiltration of very bad people including jihadists means that the border must be secured by whatever means are most effective. So do it as quickly as possible and if it requires using defense money because the Democrats refuse to cooperate, so be it. Using our military personnel to repel this latest “caravan” of immigrants from Honduras makes sense since there seems to be no others means of doing so. This invasion must stop. We have no moral or ethical responsibility to adopt all of those from other nations wanting to immigrate. No nation on earth can begin to adopt all of the world’s poor, and no other nation is even attempting to do so with the possible exception of a very unwise Canada.

5 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Peterkin

Well said Wayne. It is NOT the obligation of the United States to accept an unlimited and unrestricted flow of people from any other country, simply because their native country is s**t. Sorry, but several countries in South America fir that description all too well, if you’ve ever been there. They should be working to correct the problems in their own countries, not looking for us to provide them a lifetime of unlimited welfare and handouts so they can enjoy the life they dreamed of. These people need to work towards building the life they dreamed of through hard work and constantly pushing to fix the problems in their own countries. We can’t possibly support the entire world migrating to the United States, which is what the left wants, to be supported by the American taxpayer.

5 years ago
Reply to  PaulE


You are right in saying that we can’t possibly support the entire world migrating to the United States, which is what the left wants,, to be supported by the American taxpayer. The way it looks now, is that we will end up this way if nothing is done. President Trump should stop tweeting and start using the
Constitutional power to defend our border.

5 years ago
Reply to  Sheila

HI Shelia,

President Trump has been doing everything he can from day one to try and secure our borders and enforce existing immigration laws. Problem to date has been the Congress, for the most part, has not wanted to do that. The House Freedom Caucus being the exception of course.

On the Democrat side, they want completely open borders to allow millions more illiterate and dependent people to flood into the country to swell the Democrat voter rolls and ensure permanent Democrat rule.

On the Republican side, the RINO contingent in both houses of Congress want open borders to ensure a steady stream of low cost workers for their major campaign donors at the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable. So with NO SUPPORT from Congress, Trump has to rely on getting the public energized and engaged. The courts have been of little to no help, as they have been used to try and block or endlessly delay every aspect of the President’s constitutionally lawful right to ensure national security via our borders.

The most expedient way to reach the public is by his tweeting, since the mainstream media generally does NOT televise the WH press briefings or carry most of Trump’s speeches. They certainly don’t report on either accurately when they do choose to provide any press coverage.

Engaging our military forces, as Commander and Chief, to set up a perimeter on the southern border is his last option, given he has to act unilaterally. Yes, I wish he didn’t have to rely on tweeting to get his message out without the media completely distorting or completely misrepresenting his policies, but we don’t have a fair and unbiased media in this country. Being limited to 280 characters per tweet is far from optimal to convey complex strategies to the public. We haven’t had an fair and unbiased media for several decades now. It has been dominated by the left since at least the 1960’s, if not longer. They are just far more open about their total distain and contempt of the Constitution and the American people now. How would you suggest the President regularly communicate with the American people without his message being distorted or not covered at all by the mainstream media?

5 years ago
Reply to  PaulE


Thank you for answering my comment. Yes, you are right that President Trump has been doing everything he can to make America Great from day one. Congress is the problem. They are not going along with him. He has only one way to do is sending our military forces on the southern border. The only way he can regularly communicate with the American people is by tweeting. Now, I understand. Thank you again, PaulE.

Ivan Berry
5 years ago
Reply to  Sheila

To both Sheila and PaulE: now that is what has been meant by dialogue. Nice discussion , folks, and you too, Wayne.

5 years ago

Good idea-use our troops at our border-don’t wait for Mexico

john boy
5 years ago
Reply to  JUNE

now i see why no one watches CNN?????

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