On the seventh day of the partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump threatened to “close the southern border entirely” if “obstructionist Democrats” refused to cave and give him funding for his border wall.
But can he do that?
“The answer is yes,” said Frank Mora, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere, who served during President Barack Obama’s first term. “He just needs to present a kind of consultative explanation, under national security terms, why he would do this or why he needs to do this.”
Trump wouldn’t be the first president to seal off the southern border: Nixon closed sections of the border during Operation Intercept in an attempt to keep drugs from entering the U.S. So did Reagan, briefly, when a DEA agent went missing. Trump could, in theory, do the same, especially for reasons of national security, according to experts. He doesn’t even need Congressional approval.