President Donald Trump and his administration believe there are "strong legal grounds" behind the decision to declare the border situation a national emergency and that Trump had the presidential authority to take the action, White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp said Monday.
"Congress has the statutes and it has been used before over 50 times since 1976," Schlapp told Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "What we're seeing right now at the border is an emergency."
In addition, Border Patrol agents are having difficulty having enough operational support to secure the border, said Schlapp.
Schlapp also commented on Trump's statement at the Rose Garden Friday that he didn't "have to" go the route of a national emergency, saying that he didn't want to choose the route he took.
"He wanted to see if Congress would negotiate a better deal," said Schlapp. "They, of course, fell short with pushing forward $1.375 billion toward the physical barrier. That is better than the zero or less than $1 Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi was willing to offer."
There also are several pots of money the president can start using even while legal challenges mount to his declaration, including from the departments of Treasury and Defense.
"This is an opportunity to really be able to build these physical barriers in much-needed areas," she said. "We can start building immediately and start working with our contractors. The president met last week with the generals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the process going. The president wants to move fast."
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