President Declares National Emergency for Border Wall Funding


Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Haley Hartner, News Editor

On February 15th, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on the Southern border in order to secure funding for his campaign-promised wall.

The decision to go around Congress, after being offered $1.3 billion of the $5.7 billion needed, will work to direct taxpayer money towards achieving the total cost of the wall.

The question of whether or not the President should be able to exercise his executive powers for the sake of expediency, rather than justifiable need, is expected to bring many legal challenges regarding the constitutionality of the action, which would ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

During his announcement speech on February 15th, Trump stated “I didn’t need to do this. I just wanted to get it done faster, that’s all.”

When asked about his declaration of a National Emergency, Trump acknowledged the likelihood of being sued over his decision and the probability of losing in the lower courts, though he anticipates victory with the mostly-conservative Supreme Court.

However, this anticipation of loss may expose the lack of justification for announcing a national emergency to begin with.  An emergency in the United States that poses a threat to the domestic security of the country, though the actual definition is up for debate, should be undeniable.  For example, former President Barack Obama declared a national emergency in 2009 due to the swine flu outbreak- the funding providing for the creation of treatment sites by local governments.

Despite receiving immediate condemnation from House Democrats, Trump has repeatedly tried to reinforce his decision by referencing the major “invasion” of drugs which, he claims, penetrate the U.S through illegal entryways.

During his speech, Trump stated, “A big majority of the big drugs, the big drug loads don’t go through ports of entry.”

Reports from the Drug Enforcement Administration proved this false, showing that “about 90% of heroin seized at the border in the 2018 fiscal year was apprehended at ports of entry.”

This stands true to meth as well, being that almost seven times more meth was seized at legal ports of entry in 2018, as opposed to in between them.

President Trump also assured the public that the border wall would help to stop the “flood” of gangs and “dangerous people” from the Southwestern border.  However, statistics from the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement falsify these claims.

More than 60% of those detained by ICE in 2019 had never been convicted of a crime, and ICE did not release specification on the severity of the crimes committed by those with criminal backgrounds.

The statistics that negate the security issues that Trump presented to justify the building of his wall indicate that the declaration of a national emergency may have just been a way for him to secure funding for his border wall, in hopes of fulfilling a campaign promise that long eluded him for his two years in presidency.

President Trump’s ability to overpower the legislative jurisdiction of taxing and spending allotted to Congress by the Constitution of the United States, possibly to secure a victory in the 2020 Presidential Election, may also present the need to specify the National Emergencies Act of 1976, in regards to the conditions under which a President can declare a national emergency.

Doing so would prevent future presidents from easily controlling taxpayer money to achieve personal goals or other reasons that do not constitute a legitimate national crisis.