“Declaring an emergency would let Trump sidestep Democratic opposition to more wall funding, but it could draw legal challenges from lawmakers and others who viewed the move as a power grab. Although that could delay construction of his border barriers, an extended legal battle would give Trump a potent political issue to run on in the 2020 presidential election,” said USA Today when explaining the National Emergency Declaration, United States President Donald Trump is attempting to use to bring his border fencing concept along the border with Mexico to fruition.
“The law is one-hundred percent on my side,” President Trump commented on the situation. His plans began leaking to the media on late Thursday night. A White House official spoke to CNN on background stating the emergency declaration “will allow for about $8 billion for border barriers.”
They would enumerate the planned spending:
- 1.375 billion in the Homeland Security appropriations bill. Congress said those funds cannot be used to build a wall but can be used to construct other types of barriers.
- $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund, which would come from an executive action.
- $2.5 billion in Defense Department’s drug interdiction program, which would come from an executive action.
- Plus $3.5 billion from the Defense Department military construction budget, which would require the emergency declaration.
The situation raises a number of key questions.
Is There Actually A Border Crisis?
In November of last year, Pew Research released a study showing unauthorized immigration has been steadily decreasing over the past decade stating, “The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on 2016 government data.” Which confirms claims of their being a net outflow of undocumented workers returning to Mexico.
Such data suggests the United States isn’t experiencing a national emergency which would be solved with the building of further border fencing.
Would $8 billion Build The Entire Border Fence?
The various estimate compiled by the Brookings Institute suggests the wall would cost anywhere between $12-$70 billion to construct, not taking into account the annual cost to maintain the structure. Even at the lowest estimate, that is far below the funds President Trump is declaring for the emergency declaration.
Is The Declaration Legal?
Per reporting by CNN:
House Democratic leaders plan to make it a top priority to try to approve a resolution to block Trump’s emergency declaration, but they are still trying to sort out exactly how that plays out, per multiple sources involved in the discussions. The Democrats are studying their various legislative options, and multiple committees will likely be involved, however, the House Judiciary Committee might take the lead.
Legal experts state there are several possible lawsuit options, yet there isn’t a clear answer whether the courts will view Trump’s actions as breaking the law or encroaching upon the powers of the House of Representatives. However, legal action could last until the middle of next year, becoming a major issue during the 2020 Presidential campaign.
Is This A Good Political Strategy For Trump?
With multiple American citizens upset over their lowered tax returns due to President Trump’s tax cuts which mainly benefited corporations and the wealthiest of citizens, combined with how the country was overwhelmingly against the recent shutdown Trump embraced — the emergency declaration is unlikely to play well with the middle and working class.
If the Democratic party correctly frames the situation as Donald Trump using taxpayer money to fund a project he falsely claimed Mexico would pay for; his approval ratings would likely take a hit.
The popularity of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal represent the will of the populace to address healthcare and climate emergencies and not finance a stretch of border fencing.