The president wants to declare a national emergency in order to bypass Congress and build his wall. But there is no new crisis at the border.
Arrests of people trying to cross the southern border peeked in 2000, and have been in decline since because of technological upgrades, tougher penalties post 9/11, a decline in migration from Mexico, and a sharp increase in the number of Border Control officers.
Given these facts, if President Trump declares a national emergency and the judiciary does not stop him, future presidents will be free to declare a national emergency to tackle a host of national crisis.
The gun crisis could be deemed a national emergency and solved by confiscating all privately-owned firearms. Concerned about obesity? Declare a national emergency, shutter all MacDonald’s, Burger Kings, and Wendy’s, and require all Americans to hit the treadmill an hour a day.
Worried about child abuse? Declare a national emergency and require future parents be licensed. And what about homelessness?
Declare a national emergency and require all Americans to take in a homeless person. Thinking about the crisis in public education? Declare a national emergency and shutter all private schools. Race relations on your mind? Declare a national emergency and prohibit same race marriage.
If Trump declares a national emergency and gets away with it, we can thank him for walking the country down the road to the death of our democracy, and onto the road to authoritarianism.