WASHINGTON — This past Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency in a Hail Mary attempt to access funding for the construction of a wall along the US- Mexico border. Trump delivered his announcement at a press conference in the White House rose garden merely 13 hours after Congress passed a spending bill that did not include money allocated to build the wall.
Due to the unprecedented and constitutionally questionable nature of the president’s declaration, representatives from both sides of the aisle have voiced major concerns about the impact this decision will have on the system of checks and balances moving forward.
Questions have been raised about the necessity and practicality of a wall along the Mexican border. In response, a coalition of 16 states led by California filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on Monday, claiming that the president does not have the right to override congressional spending decisions to fund government projects.
Dating back to the beginning of his campaign, Donald Trump and his associates have referred to the situation at the southern border as both a humanitarian and national security crisis. Members of the Trump administration often cite the threat of increased criminal activity and terrorism from illegal immigration across the southern border as justification for their concerns, but mountains of data suggest their claims are fallacious at best and malicious at worst.
From a national security perspective, immigration across the southern border is objectively not a crisis. While many members of the current administration have made statements with supporting statistics about terrorism and criminality as evidence for dysfunction and bedlam at the border, almost all of their claims are wildly inaccurate and supported with misleading or outright incorrect statistics.
Three particularly misleading justifications often used by the administration are that almost 4,000 known or suspected terrorists tried to enter the country last year, 3,000 special interest aliens were encountered at the southern border last year, and 17,000 convicted criminals were apprehended at the border last year.
The first statistic, recently cited by Mike Pence in an interview with Good Morning America, is used to support the claim that there’s an influx of terrorists crossing the border, but it doesn’t at all acknowledge that almost all of them flew here or came from Canada, and that there are zero known terrorist organizations in Mexico. With proper context, this number disproves Pence’s main point.
In that same interview, Pence brought up the 3,000 “special interest aliens” and 17,000 convicted criminals that were encountered at the southern border. The problem with using special interest aliens as examples of dangerous immigrants is that it completely miscategorizes what a special interest alien is. According to the DHS, a special interest alien is an individual whose country of origin is on the national watchlist, most of whom come from majority Muslim nations. It’s also important to note that not a single special interest alien who crossed the southern border has committed an act of terrorism.
Regarding a humanitarian crisis at the border, the Trump administration isn’t incorrect. There is a humanitarian crisis at the border but only as it pertains to the gross mistreatment and separation of detained immigrant families. While members of the Trump administration continue to shift the conversation away from the humanitarian issues their policies have caused, detained families continue to suffer unnoticed.
Beyond Trump’s time in office, this emergency declaration will have massive ramifications regarding executive power. In attempting to push through legislation with a declaration of emergency, Trump opened the floodgates for future presidents to be able to declare states of emergency in order to pass bills. If a Democrat is elected in 2020, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a declaration of emergency to forcibly implement gun control, universal health care, or climate change prevention legislation.