The Magnitude of a National Emergency

President Trump Declaring a National Emergency

By Taylor Ferreira

2-21-19

    On February 15th, President Trump declared a National Emergency in regards to the security crisis along the border and as a plan to push the construction of his border wall. His declaration has received fierce backlash, and many are questioning whether the magnitude of the “emergency” justifies such bold action.  

    The President, during a press conference in the Rose Garden, justified his actions explaining how our country “fights wars we should have never been in . . . but we don’t control our own border.” He detailed the drugs, the murder, and the human trafficking activity that occurs because of our poor border control and explained how the wall would be an effective solution. He used the example of a wall in Israel claimed to be “99.9% effective.” Trump furthered his argument through explaining how “the big drug loads don’t go through the points of entry,” because of the “very capable people, law enforcement, looking.”

    The purpose of a President in declaring a National Emergency is to enable them to shift money, or redirect it, towards issues they deem as essential. Because Trump didn’t receive the 6.6 billion dollars he requested for the 864 miles of new wall, this was his way of circumventing the Congress to get the funds he needs. In this case, the majority of the funds will be taken from taxpayer money, most of which is used towards military funding. This has raised the question of whether the military will receive enough money for its many necessary innovations and equipment, however Trump assures that the 6 billion dollars that would be used towards the wall is only a small fraction of the 700 billion or so allocated to the military each year.

    His usage of this executive power has caused many to question the magnitude of the emergency, and whether it calls for this shift in funding. Some feel that his move wasn’t constitutional, as the Congress didn’t approve of the dollar amount in the first place. Trump responds to this explaining how many of his predecessors have used this action for “far less important things” and “there’s rarely been a problem.” He then brings up Obama’s declaration that also pertained to drug cartels as well as the fun fact that every president since ‘76 has declared a National Emergency. However, the only difference between them and Trump is that they didn’t redirect the money after Congress already refused its allocation.

    Whether President Trump will be allowed to follow through on his proposition is still unclear and probably will be for a while. As all things relating to politics, there are countless factors that contribute to a decision, and countless opinions on each one. It is likely that the President will be sued and the case has a high chance of making it to the Supreme Court. Trump has the precedent of many National Emergencies behind him as well as the ability to halt civil works projects. Through the Secretary of Army and of Defense, he can redirect troops and resources during an emergency for civil defense purposes without money given to him from Congress.

    However, the Trump administration is already facing multiple lawsuits. The first stemming from our very own California and followed by sixteen other states, claiming it’s a violation of the Separation of Powers. Border landowners are suing because they don’t want to give up their land due to eminent domain when “it isn’t an emergency.” Even environmental groups are suing because of the effect the wall will have on wildlife. A key line that will be used against Trump is his statement that he “didn’t need to do this” but just wants “to get it done faster.” He also says that the only reason he didn’t declare an emergency earlier is because he was “too new”, practically admitting to his belief that the country is in no more of an emergency than two-three years ago.

    The President’s goal for the wall is simple. He wants to reduce the amount of drugs, murderers, and human traffickers entering our country, and he thinks a wall is the best option. At the moment we are unsure if the wall will be effective, but regardless of its construction, it is clear that border security will increase. Personally, the most interesting result of this declaration will be seeing Trump’s reaction when future Democratic presidents use the same method to circumvent the Congress for their own interests.

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