President Trump declares State of Emergency
President Trump declared a state of emergency at the United States-Mexico border on Friday, February 15, 2019. The state of emergency declaration comes days after the U.S. Congress denied his request for funding to pay for the southern border wall, which the President estimates will cost as much as $5.7 billion. The President stated that the wall is required to thwart an ongoing security threat. During President Trump's speech, he mentioned “We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other.” He added “we have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.”
Declaring a state of emergency is a common act most presidents practice, but very controversial and rare to do so for reasoning of allocation of funds. However, the President likely faces both a battle with Congressional Democrats and a legal battle against immigrant advocates. The House Judiciary Committee stated that it is launching an "immediate investigation" into Trump's decision to declare the state of emergency. Seven House Democrats within the panel wrote a letter to the President, telling him: “we believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system."
Unlawful entries into the United States were lower in the 2018 fiscal year than in either fiscal year of 2016 or 2014. 2018 unlawful entries were substantially lower than their peak, around 2000. Many recent arrivals are Central American migrants seeking asylum. These individuals present themselves at the border to U.S. customs officials with no intention of entering unlawfully, but are legally deemed “arriving aliens” or aliens who have entered unlawfully, despite not actually having crossed the border unlawfully. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, "border apprehensions are around a forty-year low.”
Legally speaking, the President’s own words, during his state of emergency speech, may be used against him. In his Friday speech, he stated to the press: "I didn't need to do this. I just want to get it done faster, that's all." Those words may take away from his position that the southern border wall situation is indeed an emergency that would pass court review. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that President Trump’s decision “clearly violate(s) the Congress's exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available."