emergency: finish the wall

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Trump just announced that he’ll sign the budget “deal.” 

But that’s not all… 

The President will also declare a national emergency on the southern border. 

The emergency declaration will grant the President authority to re-allocate available funds (already approved by Congress) to build barriers/fencing/wall needed to secure the border. 

Is this constitutional? Won’t it set a bad precedent? 

Well, let’s not forget how we got here… 

Democrats and Republicans have long supported some version of a border wall. So much so, that bipartisan majorities approved hundreds of miles of physical barriers in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. (That bill passed the Senate by a 80-19 vote — with Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer both voting yes!) They did so because everyone agreed our southern border was unsecure, and because the inability to enforce our laws had led to chaos, lawlessness, and a growing humanitarian crisis. 

President Trump, citing the ongoing crisis, pledged to continue what bipartisan majorities had previously approved. 

But… over the last 3 months, bolstered by their new majority in Congress, House Democrats decided to do whatever was necessary to stop the President — not because opposed a barrier of some kind — but because of politics. 

It’s that simple. 

President Trump negotiated and negotiated. He eventually shut down the government and made his case from the Oval Office on national television. But Nancy Pelosi refused to budge. “Not one cent!” she boasted. 

Breaking the Stalemate
In recent weeks, President Trump relented. He agreed to re-open the government, provided that a bipartisan committee negotiate a genuine solution that would secure the border. The negotiated “compromise” celebrated this week is a bust. 

The bill to be signed today by the President will not be enough to stop the exploitation of thousands of migrant women and children — and will leave large swaths of our border unprotected. 

Just this past month, we saw the largest fentanyl bust at the border, news of more caravans on their way, and hundreds of illegal migrants arrested every single day. 

This is unacceptable. 

Why an Emergency Declaration is Justified
Did you know that there are currently 31 “emergency declarations” in force? 

Active declarations in place include blocking investment in Burma and prohibiting the import of “rough diamonds” from Sierra Leone. Other declarations involve Iranian oil and the movement of vessels near Cuba. 

Is the security of our southern border any less important?

Even left-leaning scholars agree that the Constitution provides broad discretion for a President to declare national emergencies. Efforts to curtail these powers have been struck down by the courts. In fact, it was after Richard Nixon’s presidency that Congress reformed the law governing national emergencies. Limits were placed on the types of declarations allowed, while Congress was granted the oversight to repeal a declaration — subject to a President’s veto. But Congress can always override his veto with a two-thirds vote. 

As an example, the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal think tank, identified 136 statutory powers that a president can invoke just by signing his name. And Rep. Adam Smith, the Democratic Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has acknowledged that Trump had the power declare this emergency under the law. 

TRUTH: Presidents have every legal right to declare a national emergency — especially in cases of national security. 

The Dawn of an “Imperial” Presidency?
Some are now wondering whether this declaration of an emergency sets a bad precedent. 

Imagine, for example, a President Kamala Harris declaring a national emergency over climate change, or gun violence … or even so-called “reproductive rights.” 

This is why the checks and balances in our system are important. And why partisans on both sides need to calm down. 

First, the House and Senate have every right to oppose this declaration, and could pass a resolution to stop it. Because of a 1983 Supreme Court ruling, however, Trump may veto a resolution that Congress approves. But Congress retains the right to override his veto by a two-thirds vote. 

Second, the monies accessible to the President under an emergency declaration must have already been approved by Congress for a similar purpose. Experts predict the President will likely seek use of unspent dollars allocated for military projects. However, the President cannot use funds for purposes other than the general purpose for which they were originally approved. 

Can funds approved to build military projects be used to fund a border wall? The answer isn’t obvious, so you can bet several lawsuits will be filed by Monday. 

And those lawsuits likely will end up in the Supreme Court. 

Lastly, we live in a representative democracy. If a President acts recklessly, the people can vote him or her out. If a future President Kamala Harris (God forbid) declared a national emergency and attempted to confiscate firearms from Americans, she would be opposed by Congress, impeached, or voted out at the next election. 

President Trump has determined that the crisis on our southern border demands action. And polling data suggests the American people agree. 

Congress has failed to come up with a solution. 

Democrats have chosen to play politics instead.

Only during this baffling political moment would securing our southern border – by means already approved by both political parties – be considered a reckless exercise of presidential power.

President Trump has taken a bold step to protect our country. 

And we support him 100%.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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Brian Burch is President of CatholicVote.org.

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