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President Trump Declares National “Emergency”

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President Trump Declares National “Emergency”

Written by Oscar Scholin, Journalist

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To avoid the repeat of another government shutdown, Congress approved a bipartisan government spending bill of a whopping $333 billion. As part of the bill, the US government will spend $1 billion on the Commerce Department in preparation for the 2020 census, $9 billion for infrastructure improvements, increased funding for the EPA, as Democratic Senator of Vermont Mr. Leahy touts as the rejection of the “anti-science know-nothingism,” and only $1.375 billion for President Trump’s border fortifications.

Thankfully for the United States, Trump signed the spending bill into law on Thursday afternoon, which prevented another government shutdown. However, on Friday, President Trump declared a national state of emergency to circumvent Congress’s restrictions on funding for a border wall. At a news conference in The Rose Garden, Trump remarked, “We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.” His comment mirrors his fiery political rhetoric that he used during the 2016 Presidential election and the State of the Union address. However, Trump lacks solid facts regarding the state of the border: according to studies released by the federal government, the number of illegal immigrants entering the country has actually declined during the past decade and most immigrants are not criminals, but are people seeking asylum in the US. Additionally, according to a study published by the Pew Research Center (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/08/in-republicans-views-of-a-border-wall-proximity-to-mexico-matters/), most people living fewer than 350 miles from the US-Mexican border were the least likely to support Trump’s wall. Thus, Trump’s fallacious political rhetoric is feeding a growing fear in America over immigration as opposed to addressing a real issue.

Several groups have already sued Trump over his declaration of a national emergency. These groups include Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and even Democratic California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who stated that he would aid other states in resisting Trump’s declaration.

But, now that Trump has declared a national emergency, what does that mean and what powers does it give him? The National Emergencies Act, passed in 1976 under President Ford’s administration, invests great executive power in the president. Trump’s declaration of a national emergency enables him to suspend the writ of habeas corpus — the right to a fair trial — censor the press and other electronic forms of communication, and in general, disregard many restrictions normally placed upon him. Trump would be able to divert government funds in order to build the wall and even deploy the US military within the United States to quell unrest. Congress, however, has the power to review existing laws regarding emergency declarations and repeal or revise those laws to ensure better protection against abuse. Nevertheless, Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over a political issue sets a precedent for the abuse of emergency powers by presidents in order to circumvent a politically unfavorable Congress. At a time when countries around the world — such as Russia, The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, The People’s Republic of China, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — move closer to authoritarianism, the success of American democracy becomes integral for the survival of democracy itself.

 

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President Trump Declares National “Emergency”