Quora Question: Can Trump Just Order a Border Wall to be Built?

Mexico border wall
Multiple layers of steel walls, fences, razor wire and other barricades are viewed from the United States side of the of the U.S.-Mexico border on January 26, in San Ysidro, California. President Donald Trump has ordered work to begin on building a wall along the Mexican border, angering his southern neighbor. David McNew/AFP/Getty

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Answer from Catherine Beale:

Does Donald Trump have the legal and fiscal authority to simply order the building of the wall on the southern border? Not exactly.

Trump thinks he can do anything he wants. His order begins:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.) (INA), the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (Public Law 109 367) (Secure Fence Act), and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104 208 Div. C) (IIRIRA)

These cited laws are indeed in place. The Secure Fence Act passed in 2006 by Congress and signed by President Bush authorized financing and construction of "the wall" by Homeland Security along the 2000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. Upwards of $100 million of the funds appropriated for that law remains unspent.

George W. Bush and Barack Obama put up 700 miles of the secure fencein Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, excluding the Rio Grande and other rivers. That doesn't leave 1,200 miles of border waiting for a "wall" from Donald Trump. The "wall" was finished.

Newsweek wrote about The Wall last March as a campaign issue:

The border in Texas also isn't owned by the government, so much of the land that abuts it is private. In 2006, when some of these landowners refused to sign away the rights to their land so that the fence could be built, the government condemned the land and sued the landowners.

After that was done, the government had to waive 36 laws to build the fence, some related to Native American land and environmental issues.

Could all of this be an issue again, should Trump decree that a wall must be built? Umm, yes.

See that? They had to waive U.S. laws. They had to seize private property. That's the kind of trouble other presidents had trying to wall off the U.S., years before Donald Trump announced, "We'll build a wall, folks."

What else might stand in Trump's way? Maybe our treaty with Mexico. Or maybe not.

In 1970, the U.S. promised not to interfere with the waterways that separate Mexico from Texas and Arizona. We've all heard Donald Trump threaten to pull us out of "treaties" he doesn't like.

But Trump's directive refers to "the contiguous land border between the U.S. and Mexico," explicitly excluding the Rio Grande and other rivers and implicitly keeping our promise not to build the wall over water.

If you're thinking that a wall is not a fence, consider this: Trump's executive order defines a "wall" as a "wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier". Like, e.g., a fence.

That's right. the wall can be a fence according to Donald J. Trump.

Last year, Newsweek wrote:

As Al Jazeera America correspondent Paul Beban pointed out after speaking with several border patrol officers, "If you build a 30-foot wall, all it's going to do is create a market for 31-foot ladders."

Trump has a new solution for illegal immigrants who get over, under or around his wall/fence. He's instructed Homeland Security to hire 5,000 new border patrol agents—a plan he can not execute until Congress approves it. Trump's assurances he'll get Mexico to "reimburse" the U.S. won't change anything.

Those Mexicans caught by Border Patrol will face a new contemplated Trump policy: Prosecution for illegal entry into the U.S.

Instead of sending captured Mexicans back where they came from, Donald Trump wants to lock them up in any of several private prisons in the border states, at U.S. taxpayers' expense. Illegal entry is a crime that carries jail time: 8 U.S. Code § 1325 - Improper entry by alien.

Private prisons love this solution. They make $5.1 billion a year on immigrant detentions, according to activist-writer Aviva Shen. And California, Texas and Arizona run the biggest private prisons in the country.

Those prisons aren't big enough to hold all the Mexicans captured by the Border Patrol. Yet.

But that's not a problem. We can build more.

Does Trump have the legal and fiscal authority to simply order the building of The Wall on the US southern border? originally appeared on Quora—the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Quora Question: Can Trump Just Order a Border Wall to be Built? | Opinion