President explores declaring national emergency in response to 'national security crisis'

President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House while walking to Marine One, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - Expanding the border wall is now, more than ever, a top priority for President Trump, who is now signaling he’s exploring all options.

On Sunday he said, “we have an absolute crisis and of criminals and gang members coming through. It is national security, it's a national emergency."

Declaring a national emergency would allow him to divert funds and undertake military construction projects, not otherwise authorized by laid out in the National Emergencies Act.

“The President can declare a national emergency and take the money out of the Deparetment of Defense," said Rep Adam Smith, (D) Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "And there is no clear history for what a national emergency means."

No clear history but likely legal challenges, he said.

For now, White House officials insist a compromise with congress is preferable.

"What we’re trying to do is make sure that we have a negotiation, a deal done with the democrats," said Mercedes Schlapp, White House Strategic Communications Advisor.

The White House specifically calls what's happening "a crisis," pointing to the numbers, including a spike in the numbers of those apprehended by border patrol from July to September and then October and November of last year.

"They’re coming in as family units. There’s also a lot of these unaccompanied minors coming in. In family units along it’s over a 200% increase in family units coming across to the United States," Schlapp said in an interview Monday at the White House.

Still those numbers, far smaller than what we saw nearly two decades ago....when annual apprehensions often topped a million.

As far as what’s next, well the President plans to give a prime time address on the matter Tuesday even from the Oval office, and then plans to visit the southern border in Texas on Thursday.

There's no indication on whether a deal on the government shutdown will be worked out before then.

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