President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency Friday to address the border crisis, allowing him to move outside of Congress to build border barriers.
“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our border,” Trump announced in the Rose Garden. “And we are going to do it one way or the other. We have to do it.”
Trump previewed the legal fight to declare the emergency, citing previous presidents using the designation.
“I’m going to be signing a national emergency, and it’s been signed many times before. … there’s rarely been a problem,” he said. “They sign it, and nobody cares.”
He said that the decision was “very simple” and would help stop the crisis at the border.
The president spoke without a teleprompter during the announcement in the free-flowing event and took questions from reporters about the border fight.
He did not sign the emergency declaration at the Rose Garden event or the bipartisan funding bill passed by the House and the Senate on Thursday.
Later Friday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders shared a photo of the president signing the emergency declaration on Twitter, but it is unclear whether he has signed the funding bill yet.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) February 15, 2019
Trump expressed his frustration with Congress, who refused to address his demand for $5.6 billion in funding for physical barriers.
He said that Democrats and local politicians who said that walls did not work were telling “lies,” again pointing to the physical barriers in El Paso that successfully protect Americans on the other side from traffickers, criminals, and illegal immigrants.
“Nancy knows it. Chuck knows it. It’s a lie. It’s a very big con game,” Trump said. “You don’t have to be very smart to know.”
The state of emergency declaration allows the president to shift existing funds within the government to the border.
He admitted he should have moved sooner to secure wall funding during his presidency, hinting at blaming Congress by condemning “people that should have stepped up” to help him get it done.
Trump also said he was working with Mexican officials to break up “monstrous” caravans coming to the United States” and claimed that he had successfully stopped the previous caravan that tried to cross in Tijuana in 2018.
“If we didn’t have the wall up and secured and strengthened, they would have walked right through,” Trump said. “They would be welcome to the United States.”
Family members who lost loved ones to illegal immigrants committing crimes in the United States attended the event, as well as border patrol officials.
Trump singled out several of them, asking that they show photos of their deceased loved ones to the press gathered at the White House.
The president previewed a lengthy legal battle over the declaration but predicted that ultimately his administration would be successful in the Supreme Court.
“I think that we will be very successful in court. I think it’s clear,” he said, referring to the Supreme Court upholding his travel ban.
He berated Democrats for trying to obstruct funding for the wall, asserting that it was all political.
“The only reason we are up here talking about this is because of the election because they want to try to win an election which it looks like they will not be able to do,” he said.
Trump denied that his declaration would set a dangerous precedent for future presidents, noting that it had been done in the past for less important matters.
White House officials spotted at the announcement included newly sworn-in Attorney General Bill Barr.
“Please stand up, Bill,” Trump said. “Such an easy job he’s got. He has the easiest job in government. Thank you and congratulations.”