Can the Defense Department Build a Border Wall?

01.14.19 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

If the President were to declare a national emergency in order to justify building a “wall” on the border with Mexico, there would be certain legal authorities that he could invoke to initiate construction operations.

But the scope of those legal authorities is uncertain and would almost certainly trigger litigation to challenge their application, the Congressional Research Service said last week.

“Whether these authorities — individually or in combination — extend to the construction of a border wall would present a reviewing court with several questions of first impression,” CRS said. See Can the Department of Defense Build the Border Wall?CRS Legal Sidebar, January 10, 2019.

On the other hand, the National Emergencies Act has been effectively invoked on two previous occasions to authorize military construction activity overseas (by Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush), CRS said in another new publication. See Military Construction Funding in the Event of a National EmergencyCRS Insight, updated January 11, 2019.

Some other noteworthy new and updated publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Mexico’s Immigration Control EffortsCRS In Focus, updated January 3, 2019

How a Government Shutdown Affects Government ContractsCRS Legal Sidebar, January 10, 2019

Defense Primer: FY2018 Department of Defense Audit ResultsCRS In Focus, updated January 9, 2019

New CRS Series: Introduction to Financial ServicesCRS Insight, updated January 11, 2019

Federal Grand Jury Secrecy: Legal Principles and Implications for Congressional Oversight, January 10, 2019

U.S. Sanctions on Russia, updated January 11, 2019

Cluster Munitions: Background and Issues for Congress, updated January 7, 2019

U.S.-Proposed Missile Technology Control Regime ChangesCRS In Focus, January 10, 2019