Friday, February 15, 2019

Trump Issues Emergency Declaration on US/Mexico Border: "The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics."


Breaking news!  President Donald Trump signed off on declaring a national emergency on Friday to free up funding to construct a wall along the southern border. 

The move has created a new fight between the White House and lawmakers but will allow up to $8.1 billion to be used to construct a barrier along the bother between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Here (and here) is the full text of the proclamation released by the White House.  The beginning paragraph is telling:

"The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency.  The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics.  The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch's exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years.  In particular, recent years have seen sharp increases in the number of family units entering and seeking entry to the United States and an inability to provide detention space for many of these aliens while their removal proceedings are pending.  If not detained, such aliens are often released into the country and are often difficult to remove from the United States because they fail to appear for hearings, do not comply with orders of removal, or are otherwise difficult to locate.  In response to the directive in my April 4, 2018, memorandum and subsequent requests for support by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense has provided support and resources to the Department of Homeland Security at the southern border.  Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis."

Criticism has been quick.  A number of scholars, including immigration law professors Steve Legomsky and Peter Margulies, discuss the legality of the emergency declaration on VOX.  Foe frther commentary ob the declaration, see Nolan Rappaport (supporting the declaration), Alan Dershowitz (declaration was a "mistake"), Los Angeles Times ("Trump is the national emergency").  and Ann Coulter ("Ann Coulter after Trump's order: ‘The only national emergency is that our president is an idiot").

Here are some reactions:

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) issued the following statement in response to today’s declaration of a state of emergency by Donald J. Trump:

“The national emergency is real.  It is not, however, an emergency at the nation's southern border or an emergency of border security.  The emergency comes in the form of a dire constitutional crisis.

“Today's lawless announcement by Donald Trump should provoke immediate and universal outrage.  There is zero factual support for the existence of a national emergency at the border.  Indeed, today's announcement would be a laughable object of ridicule were it not so dangerous.

“Neither outrage nor ridicule can suffice in the face of an unconstitutional usurpation of monstrous and perilous power.  Donald Trump's pretensions of dictatorial authority have now been laid fully bare.  We must unite in full-scale opposition to today's unlawful action.  MALDEF commits to do its part in that full-scale opposition.”


Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, had the following reaction:

“There is no national emergency, except for one of Trump’s own making. Using emergency powers to manipulate funds for political gain is not what our country needs. Border communities in Texas should not bear the brunt of this foolish, expensive stunt that will be viewed by the world as a symbol of hate. The invocation of a national emergency to fulfill a campaign promise flouts values we hold dear as a democracy.” 


Astrid Dominguez, director for the ACLU Border Rights Center, had the following reaction:

“President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border is not based on fact or reality. There is no security crisis at the border. This declaration only reinforces the racist policies he is attempting to use to harm our border communities.”

This statement is available here.

Bet on a lawsuit challencing the emergency declaration.  California reportedly may be the first to the courthouse. The ACLU may be in the race.



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