Trump Can Declare a National Emergency—And He Will Get the Money for the Wall | Opinion

People work on the U.S./ Mexican border wall on February 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Of all the things about the argument over President Donald Trump's border wall, the thing that may be most frustrating is the lack of anything that has occurred that occasions a pun or any other kind of reference to the Pink Floyd blockbuster album of the same name.

I suppose one could argue the voters need "no education" or media-driven "thought control" to understand the problems on the U.S. border with Mexico that should be obvious to everyone, but that would be a reach. The whole business, for those who've watched things unfold for any length of time, is beginning to border on farce.

In the just signed legislation funding the government, the president—despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's voluble commitment he would get nothing—got money to continue the construction and maintenance of fencing. That might be splitting hairs—it's not as clear a defeat for Pelosi as have been Trump's efforts thus far to "get Mexico to pay for it"—but the project is moving ahead, nonetheless.

President Trump makes a convincing case for its need, citing reasons other than a desire to keep Mexicans and other foreigners out of the United States, an idea his political opponents have been pushing since the 2016 campaign. His February 15, 2019 declaration of a national emergency lays it out as follows:

"The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch's exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years."

Only then, after laying out the case the criminal activities and humanitarian crisis on the border is an immediate and urgent threat does he address the problem s created by illegal immigration, particularly by "family units" seeking entry and the "inability to provide detention space" while deportation efforts are underway that allow far too many of them to slip into the United States and into the underground of society.

None of this is new. The ongoing border crisis started under Barack Obama and, back then, Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were more than willing to vote to spend money on permanent structures that made it more difficult to cross into the United States in anything but an orderly fashion. That, as they say, was then. Now, Schumer and company, who are hell-bent on reclaiming the White House for their party by any means necessary, believe that by stopping Trump from building what they see as "his wall" they are setting him up for defeat at the polls in November 2020.

That would be a mistake. First off, some of the wall, no matter what you call it, has been built. More is being built every day. Trump may not be able to claim it's finished when he runs for re-election, but he can say it's been started, an important selling point with his base. Second, the people to whom the construction of the wall means the most—if there are any single-issue voters in that category—won't abandon the president for a candidate who'd do even less than he might.

The Democrats who want to be president like failed Texas senatorial candidate Robert Francis (Beto) O'Rourke, who've committed to ripping out whatever fencing has already been put up, are not a viable alternative.

Lastly, Trump will always be able to find the money. The declaration of emergency he made gives him flexibility to move money around, redirecting it into wall construction from other programs. The Democrats' whining about constitutionality and the lawsuit filed by 16 states are nonsensical. Moreover, asking a judge to secure a partisan victory in a fight between two branches of government is an abuse of the courts for political purposes that, unfortunately, will likely be sustained—as the president himself suggested—until it gets to the United States Supreme Court.

What folks don't realize it Trump has even more options available. That $3.5 billion the State of California owes to the feds as repayment for money it received in the 2009 Obama shovel-ready stimulus to build a bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles that Gov. Gavin Newsome has now canceled? That's infrastructure money that could easily be reprogrammed to a real shovel-ready project like border fencing on the border.

The president's options are virtually limitless and Congress, which has for decades abdicated its power to the executive branch in exchange for avoiding accountability with the voters in order to improve the re-election prospects of its members, has only itself to blame. The wall's going up, perhaps in pieces and maybe under another name, but it's going up.

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International, and other publications. He can be reached by email at Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff