By Khushbu Shah
On Friday morning (February 15), President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to secure the money he needs to fund his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, funding he has unsuccessfully lobbied for from Congress for months.
Many had speculated this was coming, as Congress again refused to fund his wall in late January after he ended the first partial government shutdown, which affected more than 800,000 federal employees when he didn’t receive approval for funding in December. This time around, the House and Senate passed a spending bill to avoid a second government shutdown, though without the billions Trump has asked them to approve. Instead, the bill contains a provision for $1.3 billion dollars for “pedestrian fencing” and no money for his steel or concrete wall request. The New York Times reported that the bill left the President in a rage the day before declaring the emergency, but at the urging of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, he decided not to kill it. Instead, on Friday, from the White House Rose Garden, Trump declared, “[W]e don’t control our own border. We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our own Southern border.”
Despite Trump’s determination to build the wall — and the falsehoods he has repeated to create an urgency for it — a May 2018 report from the Department of Homeland Security said “undetected lawful entries” have fallen by more than 93 percent in a 10-year period from 2006 to 2016. “We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers with all types of criminals and gangs,” Trump asserted, stating that where there is no wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, large amounts of drugs are passed between the two countries. In fact, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, the majority of drugs enter the United States through legal ports of entry.
But he contradicted himself on the supposed necessity of his declaration when responding to a question from NBC correspondent Peter Alexander, saying, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi jumped on his comments, announcing, like many others, and using a trending hashtag, “He admits it’s a #FakeTrumpEmergency. Hear him say it: “I *didn’t need* to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”
Nevertheless, moments later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted out a picture showing Trump signing the Declaration for a national emergency “to address the national security and humanitarian crisis at the Southern Border,” she said.
Trump knows that declaring a national emergency for a border wall will launch an uphill battle to actually get it built, but is nonetheless confident the outcome will swing his favor. He said, matter-of-factly, that expects to be sued for his emergency declaration by the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit but added, “they will get a bad ruling … and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court.”
It didn’t take long for Speaker Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer to release a joint statement on their thoughts of this national emergency, calling it an “unlawful declaration” and a “crisis that does not exist.” While calling on the Republicans to stand up for the Constitution, they stated, “The President’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer condemned President Donald Trump’s “unlawful declaration” of a national emergency.
Joining the two Democrats, a number of Republicans have weighed in on the President’s announcement. In a statement released yesterday, after Trump indicated he would make his declaration, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said, “We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution.” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul tweeted a similar sentiment, agreeing he would like to see “stronger border security, including a wall in some areas. But how we do things matters. Over 1,000 pages dropped in the middle of the night and extraconstitutional [sic] executive actions are wrong, no matter which party does them.”
As Trump detours Congress to hoard a pile of money to build his campaign-promised border wall, he will have to take billions of dollars from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts, White House aides told the AP. To complicate matters even further, CNN reported the administration still does not own and has not acquired all the land he needs to build parts of his border wall.
Resistance from the 9th Circuit, bipartisan irritation, and inaccessibility to necessary land won’t be the only obstacles that will throw the President’s schedule off track, either. Following Trump’s declaration, Governor Gavin Newsom of California, where Trump proposes to build the wall released a statement addressing the administration directly: “Our message back to the White House is simple and clear: California will see you in court.”