President Trump Declares National Emergency to Build Border Wall

The US-Mexico border fence.

Photo via Flickr

The US-Mexico border fence.

Jack Waguespack, News Editor

This past Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency on the border with Mexico to gain access to billions of dollars to fund the construction of the south border wall. Congress had previously denied Trump access to the amount asked for by the administration, raising concerns about separation of powers between the cabinets. The emergency was announced outside the White House during Trump’s 50-minute speech, along with concerns addressing drug flow between borders and “illegal criminals.”

Immigration and border control have been main talking points of his administration ever since the 2016 elections. According to the Migration Policy Institute, Trump’s 2016 campaign speech in Arizona was the first time immigration was mentioned. Trump laid out a 10-point plan on his immigration policy and future plans for his presidency which included building a wall around the entirety of the US-Mexico border and increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers.

He also focused on the drug war in Mexico, along with sex trafficking and how it pertains to the U.S. and the safety of its citizens. While these changes in policy radicalized conservative voters, it also started a new movement within immigrant communities and supporters of more open borders. Beto O’Rourke, a 2020 election prospect, recently held a march in El Paso protesting the idea of barbed-wire fencing the area that separates El Paso, Texas from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

During his address, President Trump stated, “I’m going to be signing a national emergency. And it’s been signed by other presidents. There’s rarely a problem. They sign it; nobody cares.” NPR found this statement to be true, although many of the emergencies have followed a national disaster, such as 9/11 or the Iran Hostage Crisis.

The National Emergencies Act was introduced to the House on Feb. 27, 1975 and was then passed later on in the same year. This grants the President certain powers during an active crisis, some of which include suspending all laws regulating biological weapons and the ability to authorize military construction projects. CNN reported that there are currently 28 active national emergencies, ranging from 1979 to 2019.

Following the declaration of the emergency, the administration is expecting pushback from Congress. Prior to the national emergency, the US saw the longest government shutdown, 35 days long, due to Congress and the President not being able to come to a consensus on a budget for the border walls.

Trump said that he “expects to be sued,”  and is confident that he will win in the Supreme Court. Congress has the power to undo the declaration with a two-thirds majority vote or with a joint resolution from the President. 13 states are also following in California’s footsteps by pursuing lawsuits against Trump, stating that only real emergencies ought to be granted funding. If all 13 states can prove harm was caused by the declaration, then they have a strong case against the president.