Updated at 11:19 a.m. ET on January 14, 2019.
President Donald Trump tonight will hold a nationally televised speech to address the impasse over the border wall. Because Democrats have refused to appropriate approximately $5 billion for the construction project, Trump is reportedly mulling alternative avenues to deliver on his campaign promise.
Here’s what he can do under the law, and what he can’t.
Trump has two traditional statutory avenues.
He could ask Congress to pass a new piece of legislation specifically for the construction of a contiguous physical wall. But the Democrat-controlled House would never pass such a bill, and Senate Democrats could filibuster the legislation if it did.
To get around this blockade, Trump could cite his authority under the Secure Fence Act. The 2006 act, which garnered bipartisan support during the George W. Bush administration, allocated funding to construct “fencing” and “physical barriers” along a 700-mile stretch of mostly federally owned land at the border. (The Southwest border spans roughly 2,000 miles.) The law also permitted the secretary of Homeland Security to secure the border through actions that are “necessary and appropriate” for security purposes. But the existence of this provision gets Trump only so far; he still needs Democrats in Congress to release funding for additional fencing, and they’re not going to do that.