President Trump’s justification for a national emergency is not good enough

This can set a bad precedent


(Courtesy of Donald J. Trump’s official facebook page)

By Rithika Senthilkumar, Collegian Columnist

President Trump’s promises to build a wall along the Southern border have been coming ever since his presidential campaign. After a difficult battle with Congress over funding for the wall, Trump has now taken significant strides by declaring a national emergency. He justified his actions by attesting that the flow of drugs and crime, along with illegal immigration, pose a threat to national security.

According to the National Emergencies Act of 1976, President Trump has the constitutional authority to declare a national emergency during a national crisis. However, his authority to declare a national emergency for a border wall does not necessarily make it the best political practice, especially in our current political climate. The declaration is a dangerous tactic and sets a bad precedent for future presidents. It is also problematic in its principle and has far-reaching consequences.

To begin, President Trump’s declaration is not reflective of an actual emergency. In fact, customs and border protection data show that unlawful entry through the United States’ southern border in 2018 decreased by 25 percent from 2017 and is at a 46-year low. Data also shows the arrests of “non-criminal aliens” – those whose crimes only involve immigration violations – increased by 42 percent. Given these statistics, it seems as though the president is simply manufacturing a crisis and emergency.

It is a given that the immigration system in this country is extremely broken, which causes the issues in border protection and national security that Trump is referring to. However, the issues caused by the broken immigration system are already being addressed by the Trump administration’s increase in immigration crackdowns. While further steps to strengthen border security and to reform the current immigration system are needed, they don’t qualify as crises that require a national emergency declaration.

Regardless of which political ideology you believe in or which political party you belong to, there is no denying the fact that the southern border protection, while a concern, is not an emergency. In fact, the president himself admitted that when he said the following during the Rose Garden address: “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

How is a declaration of national emergency justified when the president himself does not believe that a wall at the southern border is an emergency? Not only is President Trump overreaching his executive power, but he is also undermining and taking advantage of the National Emergencies Act.

By participating in and continuing a dangerous trend, Trump’s declaration also sets a bad precedent for future presidents. Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama also used his executive powers to bypass Congress. For example, Obama issued sweeping executive orders in 2012 and 2014 to protect young, undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Now, it is clear where a switch in the ruling political party has brought the DACA program; it is negatively affecting the people the program was issued to protect.

Trump, by continuing this trend of overreaching executive power, is setting a precedent for future presidents that will only cause more problems. For issues such as illegal immigration and immigration reform, working alongside lawmakers should be the goal, instead of finding the fastest unilateral way to the goal.

So, what’s next for Trump’s national emergency? Since its declaration, many lawsuits have been filed against the Trump administration. The House of Representatives voted to overturn the declaration, and the Senate will be voting on the same resolution soon, though a presidential veto of the resolution is practically inevitable.

A unilateral decision on bipartisan issues such as immigration reform is bound to lead to a long legal battle and congressional debate, which entirely defeats the purpose of a national emergency.

Rithika Senthilkumar is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]