The Congressional Research Service (CRS), an office of nonpartisan researchers employed by Congress, released a paper that states President Donald Trump may have the authority to use Department of Defense resources to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval or declaring a state of emergency.
Its Jan. 10 titled “Can the Department of Defense Build the Border Wall?” was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. It states:
Another statute that authorizes the Secretary of Defense to assist civilian law enforcement with counter-drug activities may provide some authority for the construction of barriers along the border. 10 U.S.C. § 284 (Section 284) provides that the Secretary of Defense “may provide support for the counter-drug activities or activities to counter transnational organized crime” of any law enforcement agency, including through the “[c]onstruction of roads and fences and installation of lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States.” …
Use of Section 284 would not require a declaration of a national emergency under the NEA. However, the DOD’s Section 284 authority to construct fences appears to extend only to “drug smuggling corridors,” a condition that may limit where DOD could deploy fencing.
According to a top congressional aide, “drug corridors” are not defined in the law.
The president has suggested using an executive order to circumvent the Democrats who have refused to allocate $5.7 billion to build part of a wall. Trump has said he was considered using a “state of emergency” to build the wall, which many senators have urged him not to do, fearing it would set a precedent that Democrats could use in the future.
These options may not be necessary, CRS argues, because of the way the law is stated.
Trump may not have to deal with Democrats or declare a national emergency.