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Texas GOP Rep. Will Hurd: Trump's National Emergency 'Goes Against' Constitution; Wall 'Least Effective Way" to Secure Border

Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas criticized President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to secure funding for a wall along the Mexican border, saying he believes the action was unconstitutional.

“That gives the president certain powers that I believe goes against what our constitution has said,” Hurd told CNN host Jake Tapper on the State of the Union television program Sunday. “Congress, back before I was alive, gave this authority up that they have – the power of the purse – to the executive branch in times of an emergency,” he pointed out. “I think we need to claw that back.”

Hurd represents the vast 23rd District, which includes more than 500 miles of Texas/Mexico border, believes Trump’s long promised border wall is a poor and ineffective way to fight undocumented immigration and trafficking.

“Building a 30-foot high concrete structure from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security,” Hurd told Tapper in the interview. He also argued that the president actually understands that perspective.

“What we should be doing is focusing on technology, manpower and physical barriers where it makes sense,” he said.

Earlier in his comments, Hurd explained that he does believe undocumented immigration is a “problem” that needs to be addressed. “Last year, 400,000 people came into the country illegally,” he said. “We had $67 billion worth of illegal narcotics [come] into the country.”

Trump officially declared a national emergency to build a wall along the southern border last month after a stand-off with lawmakers in Congress over funding for the barrier. The president had long vowed to build the structure, and his failure to fulfill the promise had drawn harsh criticism from some formerly loyal prominent supporters. In his effort to secure funding for the wall, Trump refused to sign a bipartisan budget that did not allocate at least $5.7 billion for the structure. His decision forced a partial government shutdown in December, starting just before Christmas and lasting through most of January to become the longest in U.S. history.

GettyImages-1127661991 A girl from Anapra, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, touches hands with a person in the U.S. through the border fence, during a prayer with priests and bishops from both countries for the migrants and people of the area, on February 26 HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images

The president inevitably signed a budget that was essentially the same as the one he’d initially refused to accept. But he then declared a national emergency, saying he would simply reallocate funds already approved by Congress for other uses to build the structure. Democrats and some Republicans, such as Hurd, have criticized the move, arguing it goes against the Constitution as a major overreach of Executive power.

In the House of Representatives, a resolution passed at the end of February to block the presidential declaration with the support of several Republicans. The Senate is also expected to support the resolution, despite being controlled by the GOP. Trump’s administration has already signaled that the president would use his first veto since taking office to overturn the congressional rebuke. As it is unlikely that Congress will have enough votes to override the veto (a two-thirds majority is required) the constitutionality of the decision will likely be decided in the courts.

Even Trump’s former chief of staff retired General John Kelly, who left the administration during the shutdown, has publicly criticized the declaration. “I think the whole national emergency thing right now is going to be wrapped up in the courts,” Kelly said last week. “Thank God we have the courts,” he added.

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