We’ve All Heard By Now That Trump May Go The “National Emergency” Route…
Which seems more likely now than ever, especially since the President shut an effort down by Senate Republicans to revive a “DACA for wall” deal as a compromise.
And we’ve all heard the money is likely to be reallocated from relief funds originally intended for rebuilding efforts in California, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas, after natural disasters there. Which is pretty bold considering Florida at least will be very much up for grabs in 2020 and Trump’ll almost have to win it to get reelected. Perhaps that’s why the President’s already trying to condition the country to depriving California of funds in his Twitter feed.
What we hadn’t seen before is this, from an ABC News article (that was actually from a few days ago):
“One administration official described the current executive action under consideration as clearing the way for the construction of roughly 115 miles of new border wall strictly on land owned by DoD, which would make up roughly 5 percent of the more than 2,000-mile border.”
If Trump goes the “national emergency” route, that makes perfect sense. Because the greatest difficulty in getting his wall built in the first place–no matter who’s financing the project–would be numerous legal challenges from landowners on the border whose land would have to be seized under “eminent domain” statutes, and they’d have to be paid for it. About 66% of the land along the border is privately owned, according to the Washington Post.
Except we did a little research and we’re not sure there’s all that much border land controlled by the Department of Defense. This map we found from the Congressional Research Service is a bit dated, but the only DoD land we see is a stretch in Arizona and a tiny spot in Texas. Does that add up to 115-miles? Maybe. Far more border land owned by the government falls under the control of Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service. Would Trump be able to touch that too without too much trouble?
However, the numbers would work out about right. If we do a little math that’s based on projections by the U.S. Government from last summer, 115-miles of wall would cost just under $5-billion dollars. But that’s when it was going to be made of concrete. Trump himself has said the now-preferred “steel slats” are more expensive, so that’d probably push the total up a bit, just about to the exact amount Trump’s been asking for.
If he goes that route–which is reckless and sets a dangerous precedent regardless–the best outcome might be that he’ll declare victory, leave it at that, and move on to things that could get him real, not just symbolic “wins”, like China trade talks which have been going on all week (that’s what Trump was referring to when he said “I find China, frankly…to be far more honorable than Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy“), or his next sit-down with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un who made another visit to Beijing this week to meet with China’s President Xi, who’s dealing with a huge scandal of his own, after the Wall Street Journal reported China worked with the former Prime Minister of Malaysia to gain massive contracts in exchange for help derailing investigations into a multi-billion dollar scandal; all major stories which have gotten almost zero coverage. A revelation as the result of an error by Paul Manafort’s lawyers that he was sharing private Trump campaign polling data with a Russian friend, got only slightly more. Oh, and also an article in the journal Science yesterday found that the world’s oceans are warming at a much faster rate than previously thought: “40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago”, according to the New York Times. As unsure as we are of Trump’s impetuous moves at times, we can be pretty sure how he’ll handle that news: ignore it.