A declaration of emergency is foolish and unfounded

As the battle for the infamous southern border wall rages on, what started as a subtle rumble has recently grown to a clamoring roar.

Through his increasingly antagonistic crusade for the wall, the president has threatened to declare a state of emergency. Now, this threat appears to have solidified into a very possible reality.

The current funding bill that is to be signed in actually allocates less money than what the Senate previously proposed for physical border security— just $1.375 billion for “existing technologies” versus the former $1.6 billion, paling in comparison to the president’s requested $5.7 billion for a wall.

Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.

— Donald Trump via Twitter, Nov 20, 2014

However, calling a state of emergency would essentially allow the president to bypass Congressional approval for allocating money to his so sought-after objective: funding the wall. And despite his previous berating of President Obama for doing the same, the president is now moments from following suit.

While there are different avenues the president could take in terms of the legality of emergency powers, the clarity of those technicalities is scarce.

For example, he could use the National Emergencies Act of 1976— as Bush did following 9/11 and Obama did in the midst of the 2009 swine flu outbreak— under which Congress codified what specific powers presidents could enlist. But, the act provides no actual definition of “emergency.”

A number of other laws present the president with options for enlisting emergency powers, but the vagueness persists.

But is there truly such a dire crisis at our southern border? The numbers certainly contest. Total number of arrests for illegal crossing from Mexico have been on the decline for years now, with 2017 hitting the lowest number since 1971, as according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Moreover, undetected crossings have plummeted as well; according to the Department of Homeland Security, there were 62,000 in 2016 compared to 851,000 in 2006.

Requesting asylum to escape dangerous situations at home is a legal way to enter the country, and rates of these requests have been increasing.

As for the drug problem, while drugs are certainly transported over the southern border, the majority of drugs enter at ports of entry, where border crossing is legal, rather than over regions where physical barriers exist or are proposed.

Though the president has attested to the overwhelming crime rate of illegal immigrants, there is no actual comprehensive data to back this. Many studies have been done to debunk this; just one example is the conviction rate of illegal immigrants in Texas, which is lower than both native-born Americans and legal immigrants.

The reality is that most illegal immigrants in this country stem from overstaying, those who come in on airplanes rather than running across a border. Regardless, the precedent that could be set if the president is to go through with declaring an emergency is dangerous. This flurry to turn to emergency powers simply to win a long drawn out battle, when there is no actual crisis, is frankly immature and foolish.

These powers cannot be monopolized into a game tactic. There is no need to explain the treachery that could result from the presidency abusing powers solely meant for catastrophe and crisis, and it is a cold, harsh disrespect and disregard of the meticulously laid out system of checks and balances.

Even Republicans have acknowledged this, worrying for how emergency powers could be molded to address issues of health care or climate change when Democrats slip into the White House next.

As the sanctity and fate of this country’s government dangle in peril, it is now up to the courts to surmise the president’s next move.