The debris still smoldered days after falling; blocks had been transformed into what resembled war zones. Husbands, mothers and friends still held out hope that maybe, just maybe, their loved ones would somehow be found alive, even 48 hours later. The nation returned to work, still terrified, still in shock after the horrors of 9/11. This was a national emergency.
Thousands of people stood in lines outside vaccination centers in 2009. Hospitals were on the brink of being completely overwhelmed, and nervousness slowly seeped into the nation. According to a citation of officials in the New York Times, more than 1,000 Americans were dead from the H1N1 virus, or swine flu. This was a national emergency.
After weeks of stalemate, an agreement had finally been made. Republicans and Democrats came together for a small compromise. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, less than 400,000 undocumented people were stopped from entering the country illegally in 2018 compared to over 1.6 million in 2000. In other words, illegal immigration is significantly lower now than in previous years.
This is not a national emergency.
In his announcement at a press conference last Friday, Feb. 15, Trump declared a national state of emergency in order to gather funds for the border wall he has been yelling about since his campaign in 2016. With this declaration, Trump gains the power to move $3.6 billion originally allotted to military projects to construct the wall. From counternarcotics programs he can pull $2.5 billion and from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund, he garners $600 million. This is in addition to the $1.375 Congress proposed, which he agreed to in order to avoid yet another government shut-down.
This brings the total to around $8 billion for a wall the legislative branch did not agree to.
This gives $8 billion to a president who turned his back on the separation of powers in a dramatic, unnecessary power move.
One of the most upsetting aspects of the whole ordeal is the fact that even the president himself undermined the need for this declaration. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it faster.” This is what Trump said in regard to the national emergency declaration at his press conference.
Call me crazy, but if there is an admittance of the unnecessariness of something, it seems like it just might not be a national emergency.
Now, House Democrats will be working to present legislation to overturn the president’s declaration. The president will undoubtedly fight any legislation brought against him, likely all the way to the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court. This further separates a government already divided, putting the continual focus on fighting across the aisle.
With this declaration of national emergency, even after Congress agreed on a compromise, Trump once again shows himself to be only one thing: selfish. A man who cares only about his radical, unprecedented proposal is selfish. A man who dismisses attempts to compromise in a juvenile “my way or the highway” manner is selfish. A man who essentially gives the middle finger to the separation of powers — the basis of our democracy — is selfish.
Trump is not for the people; Trump is for himself.
If, by chance, our president truly believed the southern border needed to be strengthened for reasons other than a personal ego boost, he would sit down at the table to discuss options; he would sit down at the table to listen.