President Trump said Friday he’s holding off — for now — on declaring a national emergency at the southern border, in part because liberal federal judges would likely block the move.
“I’m not going to do it so fast,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “We want Congress to do its job.”
He insisted, “What we’re not looking to do right now is national emergency.”
Mr. Trump said a day earlier that he has an “absolute right” to declare an emergency that would allow him to build a wall or barrier on the border without congressional approval.
The move would likely end the partial government shutdown that has now reached 21 days. The president said he will sign a bill approved by the House Friday that would enable federal workers to receive back pay for the shutdown.
Progressives are vowing to take the president to court if he declares an emergency, and Mr. Trump indicated that prospect is causing him to hesitate. The administration has lost several high-profile cases in the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers the western U.S.
“I’ll be sued, it’ll be brought to the Ninth Circuit … and we’ll probably lose there too,” Mr. Trump said.
He added, “Hopefully we’ll win in the Supreme Court.”
As he met with law enforcement officials, Mr. Trump said an emergency declaration would be “the easy way out” for Congress.
“It’s too basic. Congress should do this. If they can’t do it, I will declare a national emergency,” he said.
The president said he wants Congress to vote to fund a concrete wall or steel barrier.
“I don’t care what they name it. They can name it peaches,” he said. “I want the Democrats to come back to Washington and vote.”
The House and Senate have adjourned for the week, ensuring that the shutdown will last at least until early next week, making it the longest in history.
The president also chided reporters in the meeting, saying much of the media is ignoring the crisis at the border, including children being exploited by adult migrants to try to gain entry to the U.S. more easily.
“You write about nonsense,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “You don’t report it because you’re fake news. … You don’t want to tell the story about what’s going on at the border.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, met earlier Friday with Mr. Trump and urged him to declare a national emergency, saying the president understands that Democrats will never make a deal with him.
“Just met with President @realDonald Trump and his team,” Mr. Graham tweeted. “It’s clear to both of us that Democrats don’t want to make a deal and will never support border wall/barriers.”
The lawmaker said the emergency declaration is needed because Democrats “hate President Trump more than they want to fix problems.”