Back in the 1900s, when industries needed cheap workforce to earn higher profits, Mexican immigrants were welcomed. Their motivation and hardworking spirits were seen as a great resource, and they played a key part in the businesses’ growth. Today, more than a century later, the president wants to send them back, and stop them from coming.
On Feb. 15, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in order to build his long-promised wall between Mexico and the U.S. to stop drug and human trafficking. Right after ending the longest shut down in history, President Donald Trump found a way to bypass Congress’ approval to fund his project.
The word “emergency” qualifies an action that happens unexpectedly, which is not a good word when talking about the issue at stake. While drug trafficking increased in the recent years, it has been a problem since the 1900s. At the beginning of the 20th century, opium and morphine were a drastic problem in the U.S. and were the cause of overpopulated jails and hospitals, according to the Time.
President Trump’s declared a state of emergency on an issue that we have been dealing with for decades. Action needs to be taken to prevent drug smuggling into the country, but is building a wall the ultimate solution to this problem? Is a fence preventing your dog from going into the neighbor’s backyard helpful when the gate is open? The answer is no, not when we know that this gate already lets hundreds of thousands of people go through every day.
According to USA Today, Gil Kerlikowske, the former head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said that “regardless of the number of drug dogs and technology and intelligence, the potential of smuggling the drugs in through a port of entry is far greater.”
Drug traffickers find it less risky to go through the busiest entrances such as San Ysidro port of entry in southern California than using illegal paths. President Trump still thinks that building a 234-mile steel wall will stop this from happening, which is why he demanded $5.7 billion from Congress.
Only $1.4 billion were given to him, but he does not give up and intends to fulfill his campaign promise before the next elections in 2020. His only resource left is to call for a national emergency, which will allow him to unlock $3.6 billion dedicated for the construction of military housing, schools and gyms.
He will also have the power to use other funds from counter-narcotic programs and from the Department of Treasury, eventually obtaining a greater amount than the one he asked in the first place.
Many presidents have declared a state of national emergency since 1976, when the law was enacted. From President Carter’s response to the 52 hostages detained in Tehran, to Clinton’s prohibition of transaction with terrorists and to Obama’s response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009, everyone was responding to a new and urgent threat that required immediate action.
Moreover, none of them ever tried to circumvent Congress to fund a chosen project. Building the US-Mexico border wall is a domestic project clearly dividing the population. According to CBS News, a poll made in Nov. showed that 59 percent of the American population was opposed to it.
Declaring a state of emergency for such a split issue is setting the tone for other presidents to use the act for issues like climate change or gun control. While some could see it as a great thing, it also deprives citizens of many rights.
For instance, it can suspend writs of habeas corpus letting the government imprison people without political review or shutdown internet and emails if they are considered as a threat of war. It increases the president’s power considerably and does not represent the idea of democracy that the U.S. embodies.
President Trump should think of better alternatives before engaging in such a process. Congress does not have the power to stop him, but the House and the Senate can elaborate a joint resolution of termination, if they believe that his decision is unappropriated or that the threat has decreased. Another way to oppose the president’s decision is to file a lawsuit against it. Sixteen states already filed one to challenge the president in courts, and hopefully the judicial branch will redefine the separation of power that tends to be omitted by our 45th president.