Recently Donald Trump threatened to misuse the National Emergencies Act to fund and construct a wall along our southern border. But there is no “emergency.” An “emergency” is a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence requiring immediate action.
Nothing sudden, urgent, or unexpected along our southern border.
The Trump administration has not produced any proof that the mass of migrants seeking to enter the United States are hostile to us. Even if most of the migrants were hostile to the U.S. building a wall to prevent them from entering the U.S. would take years – hardly the kind of “immediate action” required to address an “emergency.”
Many of the migrants seeking to cross into the U.S. along our southern border are asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are permitted by federal law to cross into the United States at unofficial ports of entry. Trump’s November proclamation prohibiting them from doing so violated this federal law and was held illegal and unconstitutional. A federal circuit court enjoined the Trump Administration from enforcing his presidential proclamation. The Supreme Court of the United States implicitly agreed.
Trump’s wall like his November proclamation would prohibit what federal law permits, preventing migrants at our southern border from seeking asylum other than at official ports of entry. Building a wall is, in effect, a de facto means of enforcing his November proclamation, which flies in the face of the court order enjoining him from doing so. The president is not allowed to take the law into his own hands; on the contrary, his primary job is to faithfully execute our laws as written and interpreted by the courts. It is the judiciary’s job to say what the law is not the executive’s.
Maurice F. Baggiano, JD