Can Trump use the military to build The Wall?

Trump just tweeted

Can Trump order the military to build The Wall? Should he?

My understanding was the main crux of the issue is where’s the money coming from, not who builds it. I think there would still be the issue of funding even if Mexicans behind home depot built it. Last I checked the Military doesn’t have thousands of miles of 30 feet wall lying around.

I know what the main crux of the issue is, but that is not what this thread is about. Can he order the military to build that wall and, if so, should he?

Actually, that kind of is what the thread is about. Congress appropriates resources for the military. If Congress doesn’t authorize the purchase of building materials, then it doesn’t really matter what Trump wants.

If Congress did agree to fund the venture, then the answer is “Yes,” Trump could order the military to build the wall. We had soldiers very recently building border fences.

The fact that Trump is such a dumbshit that he doesn’t know - or doesn’t care - how these things are accomplished is very much an issue. I doubt he has any comprehension of this at all. It’s obvious he just says whatever people want to hear, regardless of the reality of the situation.

It’s politics. He gives an unfunded mandate to the military to build it. It’s up to them to come up with the money. They naturally ask Congress for the money to do so. Congress says, “No.” Trump says, “Democrats don’t care about our military. They’re denying them the resources they need. They don’t care about our boys in harm’s way or the security of this country.” His base gets riled again and he’s in the position of making rhetorically strong arguments (that are logically weak) against rhetorically weak arguments (that are logically strong.) Americans will side with strong rhetoric and weak logic every time.

Another issue is the expropriation of all the private land required to build a full wall. I’m rather confident that in peace time, the military can’t just come in and start building shit on private land.

I look forward to some 3rd Amendment challenges if they try.

Incidentally, the Trump tweet from the OP further reinforces the fact that Trump still does not understand what a trade surplus is. And the USMCA is not necessarily going to give us one anyway.

I’d suspect that the Army Corps of Engineers is already tapped to design and oversee the construction of the thing.

I suppose that if he really felt like it, he could order all the Army combat engineer battalions, Navy CB’s (construction battalions / “Seabees”), Marine combat engineer units and the Air Force engineering units (RED HORSE/Prime BEEF) to do the actual construction. I suspect though, that those guys might be compensated a lot more than your average border area construction laborer.

And I suppose he could leverage military transport units to get the materials where they need to be, with the same gotchas.

But that doesn’t really narrow down where the money to actually get the materials would come from.

How specific does Congress define funding for the military? I’m sure they don’t have to approve every pen or pencil or box of ammo. So if there is discretionary funding in there, I don’t see why Trump could not say that as CiC, he deems the wall to be vital to national security interests and order that it be built.

Yes, they would have to buy materials, but why couldn’t it be under the pen and pencil budget or by cancelling the deployment of the new aircraft carrier?

This might be possible as far as the materials go, but property issues would be the biggest hindrance to this. Even if the military acquired all of the materials, they can’t just start building on private property.

Can he? Well, if Congress says so and funds it he can, sure. He couldn’t just order them to build it without Congressional approval though as there isn’t anything in the military budget about building a $20-40 billion dollar white elephant…er, wall I mean. But sure, assuming Congress said they would approve the funds for the DoD to build the thing then Trump could order the military to do it (they would probably subcontract the whole thing to Lockheed Martin or something like that).

Should he? Um…no. Even if we leave aside whether the wall is a good idea (it isn’t, IMHO), I don’t see how ‘the military’ would be a good choice. Granted, they build and maintain bases all over the world, so they do have experience, but for something like this my WAG is that the costs would balloon even over the ridiculous costs of getting some other government agency to oversee it (I would assume that homeland security would be the prime choice). I don’t have any specific experience with military basing contracting, but I’ve seen enough DoD projects to know how the military thinks about these things and how often you get scope creep when they are involved.

The military cannot use eminent domain? If Trump characterizes this as a foreign invasion (a debate for another thread) he cannot order the military on private property?

If I own land along the Canadian border and those sneaky maple syrup eating frauds with their goofy money and $1 coins come across the border illegally, I can invite them into my home and tell the government to piss off?

That’s another thing — there is a threshold for military construction projects in CONUS to be performed w/o being specifically authorized and appropriated. He’d be building it tiny bits at a time. And you don’t have absolute flexibility to cancel a carrier deployment and transfer the savings to wall-building. The budget is not infinitely fungible.

I guess that was my question. The answer to the OP would depend on how the military budget is structured. If most things are spelled out and there is very little discretion, then the answer to the OP is “probably not.” If the budget looks like this:

Military Budget: $700 Billion
Breakdown: $700 Billion on Military Shit

then Trump could do it.

That’s not what eminent domain is about. It’s the seizure of private property, not the temporary occupation of land to deter an invasion, or for the enforcement of laws (subject to the limitation of the Posse Comitatus Act).

My understanding is that to exercise eminent domain, there has to be an applicable statute. General So-and-So can’t just kick the property owner off their land by force and say “This is Army land.” General So-and-So has to begin a proceeding in a court or administrative agency, under a statute, and have the land condemned.

The second requirement is that General So-and-So has to pay fair market value for the land, to compensate for the loss. That’s a constitutional requirement under the Fifth Amendment.

So you’re back to the original comment: where does the money come from? It’s not just the materials that have to be paid for. If the Wall is crossing private land, there has to be money paid.

Is there any privately owned land going riiiiiight up to the border line? I wonder if it makes much difference if they are private individuals vs. corporate owners (e.g. a strip mall built right by the Rio Grande) but factually speaking, can we start by finding if eminent domain is even gonna be a thing here?

Eminent domain is definitely going to be a thing, as it has already in the past with many sections of border fencing.

Map of one small section of Texas’ border from “Who owns the border?”.

It appears that most of the land along the border is privately owned.
This company actually bought some land on the border for the sole purpose of blocking Trump’s wall efforts.

GoFundMe campaign to build the wall is almost at $4 million so far, with a goal of $1 billion. Let us say that Trump manages somehow to raise enough outside money to build the damn thing-Does he still need Congressional approval, or can he bypass them completely?