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Viewpoint: Why Trump may win his legal fight over border wall

The latest chapter of Washington dysfunction has culminated in drastic action by the president in order to deliver his key campaign promise. But as his opponents shake their heads and counter-punch through the courts, the historical lessons do not bode well for them, writes Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.

President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to build his long-promised border wall was met with a torrent of condemnations and threats from Democratic critics, including preparation for another heated court fight.

American politics have not been so bitter and divided since Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were forced to share the same bed in 1776.

There is a fundamental incompatibility - if not mutual revulsion - that divides our politics and its focus has fittingly become a debate over a wall.

After securing only part of the funding that he sought, President Trump declared a national emergency along the southern border to allow him to start construction with over $8bn (£6.2bn) of shifted funds to complete his signature campaign promise. For their part, the Democrats are promising immediate court challenges.

There is little evidence of a true national security emergency on the US border with Mexico. Most illegal immigrants overstay their visas or pass through ports of entry. Moreover, the number of apprehensions are down from 1.6 million in 2000 to roughly 400,000 in each year of Trump's term.

That does not mean that border protection and enhanced enforcement is not warranted. Crossings do remain a serious problem, but few would call this a national emergency.

Yet, President Trump is calling this a national emergency and that may be enough. The reason is not the data but the definition behind a declared emergency.

There is no real definition. Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, Congress simply allowed a president to declare an emergency and to assume extraordinary powers to combat it.

That is the reason why emergencies are so easy to declare and so difficult to end.

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