President justified in declaring emergency

 This isn’t about fufilling a campign promise, it’s about keeping our country safe 

SHAWN FLEETWOOD
SHAWN.FLEETWOOD.18@CNU.EDU

Well the government shutdown is finally over and all is calm again in Washington, right? Right? Wrong. On Jan. 25, President Trump signed a continuing resolution that reopened the government for three weeks till Feb. 15, to allow for a bipartisan group of lawmakers to negotiate proposals on border security and wall funding. Well three weeks came and went, and the bipartisan group of lawmakers came up with a deal that funded the government and provided $1.375 billion for border security and 55 miles of “fencing” along the southern border, coming short of the requested $5.7 billion by the president. 

On Feb. 15, the President signed the bipartisan deal, but also took the step to declare the crisis at the border a national emergency. Declaring a national emergency would allow the president to move around pre-appropriated funds from different departments to pay for the rest of his proposed border wall. According to the White House, the administration is prepared to move roughly $8 billion from various departments such as the Treasury Department and the Department of Defense in order to finish the construction of walls along the southern border. The Treasury Department has a “forfeiture fund” of $600 million that can be used however the White House wants, while the Department of Defense contains “drug interdiction money” available to go towards the wall. The national emergency would allow the president to get the last needed $3.5 billion from the Department of Defense’s military construction budget. 

This move has brought criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, who say the move is a “power grab” and “sets a bad precedent.” However, declaring a national emergency is not unprecedented and is perfectly legal. Since the law’s enactment by Congress in 1976, a total of 58 national emergencies have been declared by both Democrat and Republican presidents, with 31 of those emergencies still in effect as of today. As far as using it for border security and building walls, 10 US Code 2808 explicitly states, “In the event of a declaration of war or the declaration by the President of a national emergency in accordance with the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) that requires use of the armed forces, the Secretary of Defense, without regard to any other provision of law, may undertake military construction projects, and may authorize the Secretaries of the military departments to undertake military construction projects, not otherwise authorized by law that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces. Such projects may be undertaken only within the total amount of funds that have been appropriated for military construction, including funds appropriated for family housing, that have not been obligated.” 

The notion that the president is “abusing power” is plainly false, as I laid out above. What he is doing is perfectly legal under US law. Declaring a national emergency isn’t illegal in any way, as the president isn’t creating law or using money that wasn’t already approved, unlike like his predecessor, President Obama. The same members of Congress criticizing President Trump for declaring a national emergency seemingly stayed silent when President Obama usurped the US Constitution and Congress when he created the program known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) through executive order in 2012. President Obama had no constitutional authority or legal ground to create law and authorize amnesty for illegal immigrants. The role of the executive is to execute the laws, not create them. That’s done through the legislative branch. President Obama even said as much in 2011 when he stated he couldn’t “just bypass Congress and change the (immigration) law myself. … That’s not how a democracy works.” 

But the reasoning for a declaration of a national emergency is completely justified when you look at the crisis that’s happening at the southern border in regards to attempted crossings, crime, human and sex trafficking and the influx of drugs pouring into our country. 

According to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), in 2018 approximately 362,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended attempting to cross the southern border. In addition to that statistic, an additional 204,000 immigrants were deemed “inadmissible” when presenting themselves at a port of entry, after their claims for asylum were rejected. 

In regards to crime, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), over a two year period (2017 & 2018) ICE arrested 266,000 criminal illegal aliens. In addition to those offenses, ICE deported nearly 6,000 known or suspected gang members in 2018 alone. 

Human and sex trafficking is also a big problem occurring at our southern border. The US State Department estimates, “more than 20,000 young women and children are trafficked across the border from Mexico each year.” In addition to this, roughly 1 in 3 women (31 percent) are sexually assaulted or raped on the journey to the US border. T hese violations of basic human rights endanger the lives of those attempting to come to the US, and the only way to stop this is to secure the border. If our border is secured and walled, it will act as a basic deterrent that will discourage people from attempting to make the long and dangerous journey to the border. It will not only protect Americans, but Latin Americans as well. 

Having a porous border, not only welcomes potential criminals, but also drugs and narcotics. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has previously reported that 93 percent of the heroin in the US comes across our southern border with Mexico. In addition to this fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “heroin-related overdose deaths increased five-fold from 2010 to 2017.” In 2017, heroin overdoses accounted for more than 15,000 deaths in the United States, with a rate of nearly 5 deaths for every 100,000 Americans. This numbers to approximately 300 deaths per week from heroin overdoses. In addition to heroin, over 2,370 pounds of fentanyl was seized at the southern border in 2017, which is enough to kill every single American living in the US by overdose. The United States is already facing an opioid epidemic and the last thing this country needs is more drugs that can poison our communities and threaten American lives. By shutting down our border, we are making it more and more difficult for drug smugglers and cartel members to sneak into our country and endanger our communities. 

So while the swamp creatures of Washington and elites in media screech and protest over Trump’s national emergency, but stayed silent during the previous 58 emergencies, I’ll applaud the President for his action on the border. The inaction and ineffectiveness of Congress on the border has turned everyday American families into Angel Families and we finally have a president who’s willing to do something about it. My prediction is that this declaration will be fought out in the lower courts (most likely the 9th Circuit), where it will be litigated and ultimately reach the Supreme Court. Once there, I predict it will be ruled legal and the court will side with the president, as he has good legal standing in declaring an emergency. It’s time to stop playing politics with the border, and it’s time to listen to our agents on the ground telling us they need this wall. This isn’t about fulfilling a campaign promise, it’s about keeping our country safe. 

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