Trump declares national emergency over border wall

President Donald Trump declared the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border to be a national emergency on Feb. 15, as he seeks to fulfill his campaign promise of a wall to be constructed on the border. Taxpayers’ money that had already been allocated by Congress for other purposes will be redirected for the 230 miles of barrier.

At the same time this national emergency was declared, Trump also approved of the fiscal year’s budget, successfully avoiding another government shutdown that was going to be in effect before the deadline. Trump had said that the emergency declaration wasn’t urgent, but rather expedient so the wall would be built more quickly than Congress would allow.

Dr. Douglas Simon, a professor of Political Science, explained what effect the national emergency has.

“In order to really define a national emergency, it’s very difficult to do that,” said Simon. “Everyone has an opinion on it, because obviously what’s happening is that the national emergency has become very partisan.”

Democrats have vowed to stop Trump with litigations being filed in district courts, which will eventually move up the scale to federal courts and finally at the Supreme Court. While some legal scholars have said that the president cannot declare a national emergency to get the border wall funded, other say this avenue exists from the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which gives the president wide discretion on what a national emergency can be declared for. Sixteen states have also filed lawsuits against the president and his goal for a southern border wall.

There have been 59 national emergencies declared since 1976, 32 of those being still in effect, each having to be renewed annually by the president. Some of those current emergencies include Iranian assets being frozen in the U.S., economic sanctions of specially designed terrorists, and levied sanctions against some criminal organizations. It would seem that after the construction of the wall is complete, the national emergency would expire.

Simon also commented on the current national emergency.

“It gives bad precedent,” said Simon. “I think that is the concern. The precedent is that another president could even have a more stretched meaning of national emergency and could take money that Congress has appropriated and use it for whatever that president wants.”