Which laws are being used by Trump for the national emergency?

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

Impact of Trump declaring national emergency

President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday to obtain sufficient funds to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, in order to stem what he called an "invasion" of illegal immigrants. The National Emergencies Act of 1975 dictates that a president must use existing law to justify the national emergency.

The Department of Defense (DOD) released a statement saying that the president invoked sections 12302, 284(b)(7), and 2808 of Title X of the U.S. Code.

Section 12302 authorizes "involuntary activation" of reserve troops to perform a "federal mission at the direction of the secretary of defense." Section 284(b)(7) allows the DOD to support counter-drug activities of other federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "with the construction of roads, fences, and lighting" to disrupt drug trafficking.

Section 2808 of Title X authorizes the Defense secretary to decide whether barriers are necessary to support the actions of the armed services, and to redirect unobligated military construction funds to construct the border barriers.

Mr. Trump is expecting to use $8 billion to build the wall, including the $1.375 billion approved by Congress, with an additional $600 million expected to come from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture funds, $2.5 billion coming from the Defense Department's drug interdiction program, and an additional $3.5 billion coming from the Pentagon's military construction budget.

However, the national emergency declaration is already facing pushback, especially from Democrats. House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler wrote a letter to Mr. Trump Friday afternoon announcing an investigation into the national emergency declaration. Nadler cited a line from Mr. Trump's press conference Friday morning, where the president said about the national emergency: "I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster."

"We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system," the letter said.

Democratic attorneys general have also indicated that they are willing to challenge the national emergency in court.

Even some Republicans have shown opposition to the declaration, in part out of concern that expanding executive power now could result in Democratic presidents using national emergencies for non-emergencies in the future.

First published on February 15, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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