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(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to unlock billions of dollars in federal funds to build a wall on the southern border, bypassing Congress after lawmakers refused to meet his multi-billion dollar request for border wall funds.

For weeks, the President and his top officials had argued that there is a “crisis” on the southern border. Democrats pushed against that argument, saying there’s no security crisis but rather a humanitarian one.

According to federal data, Customs and Border Protection apprehended nearly 400,000 people along the Southwest border in fiscal year 2018, an increase from 2017 but a decrease from 2016. Many of those apprehended were claiming asylum.

Trump on Friday reiterated his claims of an “invasion” of drugs and undocumented immigrants at the southern border, but offered little factual or statistical evidence to back up his claim that a national emergency exists.

07:38 - Source: CNN
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Instead, he refuted statistics – many from his own administration – that show that border crossings are at record lows, that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans and that most drugs coming across the southern border flow through legal ports of entry.

The President announced his national emergency declaration during a rambling performance in the Rose Garden where he bragged about the economy, touted progress in his talks with China, vented about media coverage of his presidency and insisted his negotiations with North Korea are bearing fruit.

“It’s been signed many times before. It’s been signed by other presidents from 1977 or so. It gave the presidents the power,” Trump said. “There’s rarely been a problem. They sign it, nobody cares. I guess they weren’t very exciting.”

But at the same time, the President undercut his case about the existence of a national emergency and the urgency of building new barriers on the US-Mexico border.

“I didn’t need to do this,” Trump said. “But I’d rather do it much faster.”

Democrats and activist groups will almost certainly challenge the declaration in court, as critics pre-emptively argued that Trump cannot use the national emergency to free up taxpayer funds and build the border wall he has long promised his political supporters.