Opinion / Politics

How to End the Southwest Border Wall Standoff

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Every American now knows the exhausting, cornerstone facts:  An intransigent US House Speaker, flush with power and sure her socialist agenda is the future, refuses to fund anything like a protective barrier along the southwest border.  A resolute President, behind the Resolute Desk, pledges to build a barrier that aims to create credible deterrence, diminish the gush of illegal narcotics and people, protecting America’s public health, public safety and territorial integrity.

To date, we have a standoff.  The stalemate has played out as a purely political issue.  President Trump requested just under six billion dollars for the “wall,” from a federal budget that tops out at four trillion dollars.  Note, a trillion equals one million million, so the President asked for 0.000015 of the federal budget to start the protective barrier or wall.  The House Speaker – and her left-lurching caucus – said “no.”  The president then offered a half dozen compromises to get to “yes,” and still got “no.”

With the partial government shutdown lifted until February 15, the President has endorsed a bipartisan effort to get to “yes,”’ while others within the White House and Republican Party suggest either a second partial shut-down or declaring – as past presidents have for other reasons – a “national emergency,” effectively declaring the illegal drug and illegal immigration crises have reached a “tipping point.”

These three options – political compromise, partial shutdown, and national emergency – are all possible.  But there is a fourth way, and it may at this time be worth considering.  This fourth way requires that the issue become less political and more administrative.  It would allow the socialist-beholden Democrats to claim they blocked this security effort, for whatever that gained them; it would more importantly allow the President to use executive power to resolve the issue, without a national emergency declaration.

What is this option?  It is the marriage of two executive authorities.  The first is found in the longstanding Title 10 authority, with support of the Defense Department, to build barriers along the southwest border to create counter-narcotics and counter-transnational deterrence. 

The specific provision, Section 284, reads:  “The purposes for which the [Defense] Secretary may provide support (a) for other departments of agencies of the Federal Government or State, local or tribal law enforcement agencies, are the following … [include] (7) construction of roads and fences and installation of lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States.”

To be even more specific, there are eight DEA-identified regional drug transportation “corridors” and two of them, corridors E and F, cover the entire southwestern border.  Thus, the initial authorization apparently exists already for creating such barriers, without statutory limit, if the resources were available – without needing an emergency or shutdown.

This moves us to the second question:  Where does the President find roughly six billion dollars, if the US House Speaker and her caucus refuse to make resources available in pending appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security, which nests Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the US Coast Guard (USCG)?

The answer is in executive power of to transfer and reprogram resources.  For anyone interested, these authorities are explained in the Congressional Research Service’s “Transfer and Reprogramming of Appropriations.”  Notably, every president has used these powers, extensively. 

In a nutshell, any President may, unless otherwise proscribed, meet unforeseen needs with “authority to shift funds from one appropriations or fund account to another.” In addition, departments and agencies are “permitted to shift funds from one purpose to another within an appropriations account.”

As a practical matter, using this transfer and reprogramming authority, de-conflicting it with any prior statutory limitations, the Bush Administration transferred enormous sums of money (billions) from departments like State to Defense, within departments and agencies, in some cases with congressional concurrence, in others by notification. 

These transfers and reprogramming decisions could probably be executed in small amounts, sequentially or concurrently, made geographically and functionally specific, and aligned by interagency working group or task force to assure key parts of these two southwest corridors for drug trafficking are gradually covered by greater deterrent barriers.

Finally, there is an underutilized authority that is seldom even recognized, but genuinely valuable.  As an Assistant Secretary of State under George W. Bush and Colin Powell, I used it to good effect. This is the authority to review money that was obligated (to prevent it from being rescinded), but never liquidated, that is never yet spent.  There is actually a LOT of that money “parked” in what amount to escrow accounts, obligated to contractors for future use, and yet never spent. 

Example:  What I did as a newly-confirmed Assistant Secretary was find (in one bureau) $60 million that had not been liquidated, going back ten years.  I then required that money be liquidated by Ambassadors within 48 hours for the purpose appropriated by Congress, or I would de-obligate it immediately, and put it against new requirements.  The entire $60 million came back to taxpayers, and was applied against future requirements – reducing future costs.  That could also be done to pay for the wall; just imagine how many bureaus and agencies reside in federal departments.

In short, there is a non-political way to begin work on the border wall.  That could be executed if the other options fall short.  Then we could start the hard work – of fighting socialism, resolving the wider illegal immigration and drug crises, and reaching agreements that will help early 2020 be smoother than 2019.  Just an idea.

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Pamela S Lee
2 years ago

So why Doesn’t the president “Just Do it”?

mary Lou Wyrick
2 years ago

send this idea to the President P L E A S E, We need the wall.

Glenda Haskins
2 years ago

Awesome solution!!

Concerned
2 years ago

The more I hear about things like this, the more confident I am that President Donald Trump will get the wall built. Yes, and by me using the word “Wall”, I reference all things that are necessary to construct an operate effectively an appropriate level of border security. I sure wish the Progressives on the other side of the aisle would “do” as much as they say they “care” about America and its citizens.

James Tadin
2 years ago

Good idea as long as the Democrats don’t have to approve or go along with ANY part of it which they won’t do.

randy984
2 years ago

then why all this bull crap just do what is right and needed but doggone it get your court system to ok it before somebody gets a court to say not okay

Lynn
2 years ago

Yes build the wall! However its time the government judges STOP blocking our President and his progress of making America Great again! Time to vote our Congress and Senators who have been in office more than 6-8 years OUT of office! Time to make our government ACCOUNTABLE!! That means the citizens need to stand and be heard!

Schuyler
2 years ago

Depending on who owns the border, states or federal government, would it be possible for the President to establish the border area a federal defense installation? If so, then funding for a wall would be available through DOD. It would also be able to be administered by base or regional commanders. Protecting the area could be contracted out to DHS, and Boarder Patrol.

Carol L Hunter
2 years ago

Mr. Charles makes it not only sound possible, he makes it sound downright simple, so why hasn’t President Trump listened to or heeded such advice? Why does he keep haggling with the hag when he could move on and take control?

Raymond
2 years ago

The arguments for building a wall or not just keep going on and on with Republicans and Democrats. They both are ridiculous. It’s been that way for the longest time. I haven’t heard anyone come up with a BETTER solution. The USA, with all this CHILDISH arguing, is NOT a well-oiled machine. Why don’t we ask some leader of a country that is well-oiled, (If there is one), to solve the problem. We have nothing to lose.

CoCo
2 years ago

This article has given me so much hope! I was getting extremely upset with the Democrats in their absolute negativism. I am one of the people in this country that believes we need the wall and support our President. It gives me great comfort to know that there other other sources of funds that our President can use to go ahead with the planned wall. HopefuLily your next article on this matter will state that President Trump is on track with these plans.

Domenick
2 years ago

Please check your math. Although I am totally behind the president and the wall, reporting incorrect numbers gives the opposition an excuse to discredit us. $5.7 billion is .001425 of $4 trillion. About 100 times larger than you quote in the article.

Ida Wade
2 years ago

Great ideas. Move forward with them to the people who can impact decision making. Spread the word and pray for results.

David Benson
2 years ago

Where did Obama get that pallet of cash to send to Iran? I don’t think it was approved by congress.

David Benson
2 years ago

Where did Obama get that pallet of cash to send to Iran? I don’t think it was appropriated by Congress. Maybe President Trump needs to find that stash, and grab a handful.

Dee
2 years ago

I don’t know where the politicians are getting their reports but there are more Americans that are tired of all this bickering in congress and do want the border secured. So It is time for all of us to get some guts and get behind our president and let him know he needs to declare the national emergency and get things done. A another shutdown is not the answer unless you are going to stop Pelosi’s and Shuler’s pay check doing the next shutdown. After all Obama helped to destroy America we need to let Trump clean up this corrupt government by cleaning house. I for one have prayed and still am praying for our government and our president that The real God will intercede. After all there is nothing impossible for him to do. How many more lives have to be lost to drug and violence by the cartel and gangs before this nation will wake up.

Mary A. Lombardo
2 years ago

Are you making this suggestion to someone in government???

Uncle willie
2 years ago

Build the wall anyway you can and have to mr Trump .It is time we quit talking and start building before it is to late and more crimals come to the us and kill our children and our families.

Drue
2 years ago

Mr. President, BUILD THE WALL! Screw Pelosi and Schumer. They do not represent the American people. Just a few short years ago they both are on record (video) demanding the building of a border wall. This is purely a power play by the Demorats.

Ruth
2 years ago

Tell President Trump how to do this!!

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