Should we be surprised that President Donald Trump declared a national emergency for his wall on the border between Mexico and the United States? No.
Should we be concerned? Absolutely.
President Trump declared a national emergency in the Rose Garden of the White House on Feb. 15 as a response to the apparent crisis at the Southern border where “an invasion of drugs and criminals” is taking place. Except there is no crisis and therefore, there is no emergency.
It can be imagined that to any listening ears, the phrase “national emergency” evokes scenes of destruction and chaos.
We should be running for the hills, taking cover and running for our lives. That kind of language can evoke fear in people.
Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency is dangerous.
By law, under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, the president can declare a national emergency but with some constraints that are mandated by Congress.
A national emergency as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a state of emergency resulting from a danger or threat of danger to a nation from foreign or domestic sources and usually declared to be in existence by governmental authority.”
Vox Reporter Emily Stewart wrote, “Trump can only use specific powers Congress has already codified by law, and he has to say which powers he’s using.” The NEA was passed originally as a way to rein in presidential power and define when and how emergencies can be declared.
In the two years that he has now held office, Trump has proven to have a lack of understanding and respect for the presidency. His words, manner and tone show it all. This latest move is a clear example of that. By using his presidential power to create a fictional crisis, that is a constitutional crisis in itself.
Furthermore, the loud statement that criminals, rapists and murderers are jumping over our border allows for an environment that is fearful of immigrants and refugees.
These individuals aren’t dangerous but thanks to the rhetoric repeated over and over again by our president, his supporters believe what he says.
This allows xenophobic beliefs to spread like wildfire when they come from the mouth of the president.
The facts work against Trump.
Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano lays out the figures and numbers that go against the president’s national emergency mindset. She wrote for Politico Magazine on Feb. 19: “Illegal crossings are the lowest they’ve been in decades. Technologies like sensors and drones are being deployed to enhance the capabilities of the Border Patrol and are receiving increased funding in the recently signed appropriations bill. And all but around 50 miles of border barriers identified by experts as necessary have already been constructed. The small remainder crosses either private land or lands held by sovereign Indian nations, making their suitability for barrier construction doubtful.”
It’s clear from the experts: This wall isn’t necessary.
So the question is, what are the legitimate national emergencies taking place in the United States?
According to Napolitano, climate change and its effects on the lives of American is one of them. She wrote: “More Americans have died or been displaced by extreme weather events related to climate change since 2001 than by terrorists, foreign or domestic. If Trump wants to build a wall to make America safe, he should start with a seawall.”
While climate change remains a divided subject among many, its effects in the last several years are becoming clear. With more and more hurricanes occurring in Southern states like Florida and the Carolinas, more Americans find themselves displaced after storms ravage their homes and their streets become bodies of water due to flooding.
Besides hurricanes, recent historic fires in California have taken out entire communities like Malibu and left people with barely the foundations of their homes.
Once the fires are cleared, massive rain storms can lead to mudslides due to the damaged grounds after blazes. It’s a never ending cycle of dangerous conditions
Another national emergency: the staggering amount of opioid deaths happening across the United States. Vox reported 2017 as the worst year for overdose deaths in the U.S.
German Lopez wrote for Vox: “According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 72,000 people in the US are predicted to have died from drug overdoses in 2017 — nearly 200 a day. That’s up from 2016, which was already a record year in which roughly 64,000 people in the US died from overdoses. At least two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2016 and 2017 were linked to opioids.”
The numbers speak for themselves. There is a serious problem there.
So we should be running for the hills and finding safety.
But it’s not from the people trying to find a new home because the place they come from is no longer safe for them and their families.
We should be running from the storms getting stronger and the drug crises that are taking over the lives of everyday Americans.
There are your national emergencies, Mr. President.