WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to declare a national emergency that would pave the way for him to construct a wall along the US-Mexico border without necessary funding approval from the Congress as negotiations on the issue between the administration and opposition Democrats to end a partial government shutdown collapsed.
"If we don't make a deal, I would say 100 per cent, but I don't know what is a 100 per cent," Trump said at the White House when asked about the chances of declaring a national emergency if there is no deal with the Democrats on funding for a border wall.
Trump has asked for USD 5.6 billion from the Congress to construct a wall along the US-Mexico border, which he said is crucial to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and smuggling of drugs into the country.
The Democrats who support border security measures argue that constructing a wall is not the best use of taxpayers' money.
A day earlier Trump walked out of a Situation Room meeting with Congressional leaders on border security after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said no to his proposal for a border wall.
The meeting further deepened the political crisis in the country and there seems to be no end to the ongoing partial government shutdown, which is all set to break the old record of 21 days on Saturday.
"If we don't make a deal I would say it would be very surprising to me that I would not declare a national emergency and just fund it through the various mechanisms," said the president before leaving for a visit to the southern border in Texas.
"And by the way, there's more than one mechanism, there's various mechanisms and the lawyers tell me 100 per cent," he said.
The Democrats have said that funding for a border wall is out of the question.
"It would be nice if we could make a deal, but dealing with these people is ridiculous. I don't know that they know how to make a deal. We need - and I tell you what, I was looking at numbers, a lot of Democrats agree. We need national security, and the only way you have it, the only way you have it is you have to have a strong border, and the only way you have strong border is you need a wall, or you need some kind of a shield," Trump said as he insisted that he has the right to declare a national emergency.
"I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. The lawyers have so advised me. I'm not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will. I have no doubt about it. I will," he asserted.
"Other presidents have used this, some fairly often. I have the absolute right to declare an emergency. I haven't done it yet. I may do it if this doesn't work out. I probably will do it. I would almost say definitely," he said.
Trump said that the situation on the border merits a national emergency.
"This is a national emergency," he said adding "I would like to do the deal through Congress because it makes sense to do it through Congress.
The easy route for me would have been to declare a national emergency to do it. I will tell you, this is a tremendous crisis at the border," he added.
"Look at President Obama's statements from the past, numerous statements where he calls it a crisis. This is a crisis. You have human traffic, you have drugs, you have them coming in, you have gangs. MS-13 (gang), we're taking them out by the thousand and bringing them back. This is a crisis," Trump said.
"And they don't come in through the checkpoints, which they do also. They go in between the checkpoints, where you don't have any barriers," he told said.
To a question on a steel wall, Trump said it is a wall that was designed by previous administrations.
"There's nothing that can't be penetrated, but you fix it, but it's a very difficult thing to do. We have many walls under consideration, even concrete," he said.
"The wall that we're doing is very, very hard to penetrate," said the president.