United States Gifted With 33rd National Emergency By President Who Says It's Not Really An Emergency

from the nation-forced-to-hold-breath-until-president-given-what-he-wants dept

President Trump has declared a national emergency.

This is a thing presidents can do. And they've been doing it since 1979 when President Carter responded to a hostage situation in Iran by declaring a national emergency. We've spent four decades in perpetual emergency mode. With Trump's announcement, this makes American subject to 33 concurrent national emergencies, all of which grant the president a bunch of extra (and surprising!) powers, and encourage the government to start clawing back rights and privileges from the American people.

The declaration on the White House website is at least mostly coherent. It says there's a national security/humanitarian crisis at the southern border because, um, immigrants are still trying to migrate to the United States.

The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch's exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years. In particular, recent years have seen sharp increases in the number of family units entering and seeking entry to the United States and an inability to provide detention space for many of these aliens while their removal proceedings are pending. If not detained, such aliens are often released into the country and are often difficult to remove from the United States because they fail to appear for hearings, do not comply with orders of removal, or are otherwise difficult to locate.

This statement may be coherent, but it's also mostly untrue. Southern border apprehensions are down to a quarter of the peak they reached in 2000. There have been increases in recent years of families seeking entry, but how that translates to a national security emergency is anyone's guess. The claim that immigrants blow off hearings is completely false. The DOJ's own data shows that 60-75% of non-detained immigrants show up for court appearances.

The other fudged claim -- somewhat muddied in the White House statement but somehow made more clear during the President's rambling press conference -- is the assertion that a porous border without The Wall/Fence is allowing drugs and trafficked humans to come pouring into the United States. The DEA has repeatedly stated that most drugs make their way into the US through legal points of entry. Why? Because it's way more efficient to move drugs with large vehicles, rather than a handful of mules walking through unguarded areas.

President Trump completely undercut his own national emergency declaration during his Rose Garden press conference. Trump said he didn't actually need to declare an emergency to secure border wall funds, but thought this would be faster than the usual appropriations process.

"I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster."

We are subject to a national emergency that isn't an emergency, based on assumptions made by a president who refuses to listen to the government agencies he's involving in his manufactured crisis. On top of that, this is only the second declared national emergency that actively involves the military. This should be of great concern to all Americans, including Trump supporters, as it involves the siphoning of resources usually deployed elsewhere in the world and directs them towards a domestic crisis that isn't actually a crisis.

The only other national emergency to involve the US military was the one George W. Bush issued three days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. We've all witnessed the explosive expansion of government power flowing from this declaration and other Congressional responses to the terrorist attacks. Here we are with no attacks, living in an era of unprecedented safety, and the president of the country has just invoked expansive powers to deal with an immigration influx that has been trending downward for nearly two decades.

Filed Under: donald trump, executive power, fence, immigration, military, moral panic, national emergency, wall

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2019 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The only way we got to 33 was by having them accumulate over many years.

    Again, that is not a failing of the system, that is a failing of the people to either end them, or block them to begin with. That said, I could see the argument for introducing a limit on how long they can last, and at that point a review must take place and a resolution be voted on to allow the emergency to continue, otherwise it expires. That would seem to be a sensible limitation to put on it.

    The hard, cold fact is that the actual system has actually failed to actually preven the actual accumulation of bogus "emergencies".

    Again, no it has not. The reason why is because no one has actually used it yet. So the question becomes, why not? Are the emergencies still valid? I think we both agree they aren't, but then that begs the question, why hasn't government ended it since they have the tools and power to do so? Also, are you sure that the emergencies were bogus to begin with? I'm sure at least some of them could be debated.

    It would definitely mean that it had not worked in that case.

    So what you're saying then is that our entire system of government is incapable of preventing abuse of any kind and the whole thing should be thrown out. Note that the example I provided had nothing to do with the national emergency powers. Instead it only relied on the checks and balances that were originally written into the Constitution.

    What you want is some sort of automated system that automatically slaps government around when they abuse or overstep, what you consider, their powers and abilities. Unfortunately there is no magical system like that, since any system that could be implemented would have to be run and enforced by people. And in that case, just as this one, if the people sit back and choose to do nothing, the system doesn't get used. Which is entirely different from "it doesn't work".

    It's nice that you could make yourself feel better by blaming people for "failing to use the tools", but the bottom line is that the system would still have failed.

    So, you're saying that Congress DOESN'T have the power to end or block any national emergency declaration? Because I'm pretty sure the law says otherwise.

    The people are part of the system, and if your system design expects the parts to behave contrary to their nature, then your sytem design is wrong.

    Then we're fucked because you can never remove the human equation from the system. As long as humans are involved in the system, the potential for them to do nothing and allow the system to be abused will always exist, and likely be exploited. The best we can do is make sure we give them the tools to prevent and stop abuse, and hope they use it. Which is what has happened here.

    What "works" is a matter of results, not who gets the blame.

    Correct but not relevant here. Like I said, something can only "work" if it's used. If it's not used, whether it works or not is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is it wasn't used. You can't say "well my car doesn't work because I've never used it". That's idiotic. The car could be in perfect working condition, the only reason it didn't do what you wanted it to do (get you from point A to point B) is because you didn't get in and start driving it. There is no difference here, the checks and balances are in place in the law, the people just haven't stuck the key in the ignition and started the car. It's not going to start on its own and tell the president "no you can't do that". Though it would be entertaining to see a piece of paper march into the Oval Office and give Trump a talking to.

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