White House adviser Stephen Miller argues in favor of the president's right to use a national emergency to appropriate funds for a U.S.-Mexico border wall in an appearance on 'Fox News Sunday.'
CHRIS WALLACE: And joining us now for an exclusive interview, White House Senior Policy Advisor, Stephen Miller.
Stephen, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.
STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR: Great to be here thank you.
WALLACE: I want to start with something that President Trump said Friday when he was declaring a national emergency. Here he is.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this but I’d rather do it much faster.
WALLACE: I didn’t need to do this. How does that justify a national emergency?
MILLER: Well as you know Chris, we already have 4,000 troops on the border in light of a national emergency, a decision that was made almost a year ago, as we see an increasing number of people crossing the border as well as increasing violence in Mexico. What the president was saying is that like past presidents, he could choose to ignore this crisis, choose to ignore this emergency as others have; that’s not what he’s going to do.
WALLACE: The president talks about an invasion, used that word multiple times on Friday – an invasion on the Southern border. But let’s look at the facts, I want to put them up on the screen; 1.6 million people were stopped crossing the border illegally back in 2000, less than a quarter that many were caught last year. The government’s own numbers show, for all the president is talking about drugs streaming over the border, 80 to 90 percent of the cocaine, heroin and fentanyl seized at the border is seized at ports of entry, not along unfenced areas.
And in 2017 twice as many of the new people in the country illegally were from visa overstays, as were from crossing the border. Again, where’s the emergency – the national emergency to build a wall?
MILLER: There’s a lot of values presented there so I’d like to go through it each one piece at a time if I could. So let’s start with your point about the border crossings in the year 2000. As you know, when George Bush came into office, illegal immigration total– doubled from 6 million to 12 million by the time he left office. That represented an astonishing betrayal of the American people.
I’m not going to sit here today and tell you that George Bush defended this country on the Southern border because he did not. One of the biggest changes that’s happened since then and now is the mass release of illegal aliens due to a patchwork of court rulings and loopholes in our federal laws and changing tactics from smugglers and transnational organization….
WALLACE: I want to go into all of this but let’s just focus on that one issue. Four times as many people were coming across the border in 2000 as now, so why is that –
MILLER: Back then, when 95 percent could be turned around in a matter of days. As a result of loopholes, activist judicial rulings, and increasing sophistication from cartels, the reality is that more than half the people crossing the border are what we call non-impactable. They can’t be turned around. And so what you see is sophisticated operations and smugglers will actually push out migrants, and children, and family units to divert border agents and then because there’s not secured areas with the wall, they’ll then cross after the border agents have been diverted to those areas.
At a fundamental level, we could go down to the details -- and you know Chris, I could go down to details as much as you want to but the bottom line is this.
WALLACE: Please don’t.
MILLER: (Laughs) But the bottom line is this, you cannot conceive of a nation without a strong, secure border. It is fundamental and essential to the idea of sovereignty and national survival to have control over who enters and doesn’t enter the country. And we can get into statistics. You want to talk about drugs? There’s been a huge increase in drug deaths since George W. Bush and Barack Obama were in office.
WALLACE: I understand that, but 80 – 90 percent of those drugs, don’t come across in unfenced areas, they come from ports of entry. Those are your own customs and border patrol numbers.
MILLER: Which is the reason why we also ask for additional resources at the ports of entry.
WALLACE: But this is what you got.
MILLER: But Chris the problem with the statement that you’re apprehending 80 to 90 percent of the drugs at the ports of entry, that’s like saying, you apprehend this contraband at TSA checkpoints at airports. You apprehend the contraband there because that’s where you have the people, that’s where you have the screeners.
I assure you, if we had people at that same density and screeners at that same density across every single inch and mile of the Southern border, you’d have more drug interdicted in those areas. You don’t know what you don’t know and you don’t catch what you don’t catch. But as a matter of national security, you cannot have uncontrolled, unsecured areas of the border where people can pour in undetected.
MILLER: One more point, I guarantee you this, if Donald Trump had said he’s invoking the National Emergency Military Construction Authority to build a security perimeter in Iraq or Afghanistan or around a military installation in Syria, there would not have been one word of objection from Congress. This is defending our own country.
WALLACE: I question whether in fact that’s the case, but in any case let’s talk about the constitutional aspects of this because I’ve talked to you over the years. I know that you are a constitutional conservative and you believe the Constitution should be interpreted as written, correct?
WALLACE: OK, here’s Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7, of the Constitution as written. "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law." Isn’t what President Trump wants to do a clear violation of what the founders – of what James Madison talked about as giving Congress the power of the purse.
MILLER: No because Congress in 1976 passed the National Emergency Act and gave the president the authority, as a result of that, to invoke a national emergency in many different circumstances but among them the use of military construction funds. That was the point I was making earlier. If the president were to say we’re going to use military construction funds to, say, increase a perimeter around a base in Bahrain, around a base in Syria, nobody would even say anything about it and we have 4,000 troops on the border right now and as a result of that mission they need to secure those areas where they’re patrolling.
WALLACE: But let’s talk about national emergencies. National emergencies have been declared 59 times since 1976 when the law was passed, The National Emergencies Act. Can you point to a single incident, even one, where the president asked Congress for money, Congress refused to give him that money, and the president then evokes national emergency powers to get the money?
MILLER: First of all --
WALLACE: Can you find one case?
MILLER: What you’re missing, Chris, is that national emergencies don’t have all the same authorities and the same justification.
WALLACE: I assume that, but there have been 59. Can you find one case like that?
MILLER: This authority specifically refers to using military construction funds. Other emergencies, for example, were to…
WALLACE: If you want to talk about military constructions, do you know how many times military construction has been invoked as a national emergency? That would only be twice. Right? Twice. Once by George H. W. Bush during the middle of the Gulf War and the second time by George W. Bush right after 9/11.
MILLER: Can you name one foreign threat in the world today, outside the country’s borders that currently kills more Americans than the threats crossing our Southern border?
WALLACE: You know the joy of this is I get to ask you question and ….
MILLER: The answer is no.
WALLACE: Answer my question, can you name one case where a president has asked Congress for money, Congress has refused and the president has then evoked national policy to get the money anyway?
MILLER: Well this current situation….
WALLACE: Just yes or no, sir.
MILLER: The current situation pertains specifically to the Military Construction Authority.
WALLACE: I’m just asking –
WALLACE: When Congress asked for money for military construction, Congress said no and he’s then…
MILLER: The statute Chris, is clear on its own terms. If you don’t like the statute or members of Congress don’t like the statute…
WALLACE: But you agree the answer is no that --
MILLER: But the premise of your question is also false because Congress has appropriated money for construction of border barriers consistently. This is part of the national security…
WALLACE: -- under a national emergency where the president…
MILLER: Who declared national emergency to promote democracy in Belarus, to promote democracy in Zimbabwe?
WALLACE: -- taking that money that Congress refused to appropriate.
MILLER: They didn’t refuse to appropriate it. They passed a law specifically saying the president could have this authority. It’s in the plain statute. That’s the decision that Congress made and if people don’t like that they can address it. But to my – but to my point that I made, this would not be even an issue if the president was invoking that statute to support some foreign adventure overseas. You and I both know that that presidents for years have engaged in one military adventure after another, not to mention the fact that we do operations to destroy drug fields in foreign lands in Afghanistan or in Colombia and we can’t even deal with the criminal cartels operating on our border?
WALLACE: OK, let’s talk about…
MILLER: … these two organizations are destabilizing the Western Hemisphere.
WALLACE: I want to move on respectfully. Let’s talk about the logistics here. If the president gets access to the entire $8 billion he’s seeking, how many miles of barrier wall would he be able to build and how quickly?
MILLER: Well if you look at the authorities we have both in terms of drug corridor funds, in terms of national emergency funds, in terms of Treasury funds, as well as appropriated funds and other reprogramming authorities that may exist. In combination with the existing …
WALLACE: Answer the question.
MILLER: You’re looking at hundreds of miles collectively.
WALLACE: And how soon?
MILLER: Well you’re going to see probably a couple hundred miles in time I would say by the end of the next appropriation cycle. All together in terms of what we already have underway, what’s underway right now and then what we’re going to complete…
WALLACE: So by the end of this year and hundreds of miles?
MILLER: No, next Fiscal Year, one more after this.
WALLACE: OK, by September of 2020.
WALLACE: Right in the middle of the presidential campaign.
MILLER: My point is that if you look at what we’ve already outlaid we have 120 odd miles that are already under construction or are already obligated plus the additional funds we have and then we’re going to outlay – we’re going to look at a few hundred miles.
WALLACE: OK, final question, if both the House and the Senate approve a resolution of disapproval, which they’re allowed to -- it’s specifically called for in the National Emergencies Act and if they pass it in the Senate it would be with bipartisan support, because there’s republican control. If they pass a resolution of disapproval, will the president veto that, which would be the first veto of his presidency?
MILLER: Well obviously the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration, Chris. And I know that we’re out of time, but I again want to make this point.
WALLACE: So yes, he would veto?
MILLER: He’s going to protect his national emergency declaration guaranteed. But the fact that they’re even talking about a Resolution of Disapproval show you this is a statutory issue and a statutary delegation that Congress made.
But again, I want to make this point. This is a deep intellectual problem that is plaguing this city which is that we’ve had thousands of Americans die year after year after year because of threats crossing our Southern border. We have families and communities that are left unprotected and undefended. We have international narco-terrorist organizations. This is a threat in our country, not overseas. Not in Belarus. Not in Zimbabwe. Not in Afghanistan or Syria or Iraq but right here. And if the president can’t defend this country, then he cannot fulfill this Constitutional oath of office.