‘Defense may provide support for the counterdrug activities [including] Construction of roads and fences … to block drug smuggling corridors across international boundaries…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) At a House Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Defense Under Secretary John Rood dropped a bombshell in response to questions from Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ga., confirming that U.S. Code permits military support for some civilian activities without requiring a “state of emergency.”
That includes military support for fences and other barriers to combat drug smuggling and organized crime.
In 10 U.S. Code Ch. 15, under “Military Support for Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies” it says, in §284, “The Secretary of Defense may provide support for the counterdrug activities or activities to counter transnational organized crime [including] Construction of roads and fences and installation of lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States (subsection b-7).”
Of course, some may argue that a fence and a wall are two different things—Trump has indicated he would be OK with either so long as it does the job—but Brooks said at the hearing that the semantics didn’t apply.
“If you look it up in the dictionary the word fence includes the word barrier, and the word barrier includes ‘walls made of a wide variety of different materials,'” Brooks said.
Rood said that while the section of code had never before been used to deploy military, Brooks was correct that it would include use for counter-drug barriers.
Brooks then asked if a “national emergency” were needed, to which Rood replied no, and whether the U.S. military would obey such an order if President Donald Trump were to instruct them to build the wall.
“ If we judge it to be a lawful order, yes sir,” Rood said. “And I assume it would be.”
Despite past support, increasingly polarized Democrats have waged a resistance campaign against the wall for largely symbolic reasons to block Trump from fulfilling a major campaign promise.
However, some critics, including Trump, have speculated that illegal immigration also benefits the Left, which hopes a shifting demographic and cultural landscape will, in coming years, entrench its electoral dominance.
Supporters of the wall have countered that whatever the reasons for wanting open borders, they create a considerable public-safety hazard by promoting drug- and human trafficking, and other criminal activity.
….however, for strictly political reasons and because they have been pulled so far left, do NOT want Border Security. They want Open Borders for anyone to come in. This brings large scale crime and disease. Our Southern Border is now Secure and will remain that way…….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
As the clock ticks toward the mid-February expiration of a stop-gap funding measure that last week reopened several government offices following a monthlong partial shutdown, Trump had previously signaled his intention to use the military by declaring a national emergency.
In response, Democrats, including Armed Services chair Adam Smith, D-Wash., had threatened court challenges and legislation that zeroed in on the questions of whether the current border crisis qualified as an emergency.
However, the Defense Department’s interpretation of the code may deflate plans for a costly and time-consuming legal battle that would hinder Trump’s executive order through injunction, instead forcing House Democrats to reach some form of compromise.
Placed in the indefensible position of opposing national defense, some Democrats have sought to appear open to compromise by supporting a “technological wall,” but while that may be an important component of border security, it would certainly be more costly and less effective in the long run than a physical barrier.
Trump will have yet another opportunity to make his case publicly next Tuesday, when he delivers his State of the Union address before Congress, after the shutdown prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to withdraw an earlier invitation.