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U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks says existing law allows President to use troops to build border wall

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At a house armed services committee hearing Tuesday,  Huntsville-area U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, citing federal law governing roles for the military, offered a plan for a border wall.

"I want to direct your attention to 10 United States Code 284," Brooks said in Tuesday's hearing.

The section deals with counter-drug measures the U.S. military can participate in, including:

(6)The detection, monitoring, and communication of the movement of—

(A) air and sea traffic within 25 miles of and outside the geographic boundaries of the United States; and
(B) surface traffic outside the geographic boundary of the United States and within the United States not to exceed 25 miles of the boundary if the initial detection occurred outside of the boundary.
(7) Construction of roads and fences and installation of lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States
(8) Establishment of command, control, communications, and computer networks for improved integration of law enforcement, active military, and National Guard activities.

Brooks said it appears to him that under the code section, U.S. troops "can be used by the president of the United States to direct the United States military to build a wall. Now, as of today, you’ve mentioned military forces along the southern border, have any of them been deployed pursuant to 10-USC-284?

John Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, testified at Tuesday's hearing.

"I don’t believe any of our forces have been deployed pursuant to 10-USC-284," he said. "You are correct however that that use of authority would authorize the Secretary of Defense to erect barriers, roads, fencing, those type of materials to disrupt drug smuggling."

During the budget impasse, President Trump raised the prospect of an emergency declaration to use U.S. troops and existing defense funds to build the wall, but he’s held back on issuing that declaration.

Tuesday Brooks asked if the counter-drug law he cited also required a declaration.

"Does 10-USC-284 require the declaration of a national emergency before it is implemented?"

"No," Rood replied.

Brooks asked if the military was ready for the job.

"To build such barriers as are necessary to secure our southern border from drug trafficking and international crime cartels, would the United States military obey that order?"

"If we judge it to be a lawful order, yes sir," Rood said. "And, I assume it would be."

The continuing resolution that reopened the government last Friday is due to expire Feb. 15

 

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