President Trump has declared a national emergency.
The emergency the President is eager to address isn’t so much about dangerous immigrants and killer drugs flooding into the United States across our southern border as it is about his possibly failing to keep a campaign promise. You know the one. He is going to build a great big beautiful wall (for which Mexico will pay). It is, now, to consist of vertical steel slats. Slats will allow our good guys to see who is approaching from the other side of the border. Then, again, slats would presumably allow their bad guys to pass stuff through the slats to our bad guys when no one is looking, but let’s not get bogged down in details.
The Executive Order declaring this National Emergency is, of course, pure Kabuki. It’s about political showmanship more than serious threats to the United States. As we have stated in the past, we carry no brief against beefed up border security including a barrier or a wall where appropriate. An appropriate barrier where necessary is neither drastic nor uncommon. What we do have a problem with is the demonization of immigrants in order to keep a campaign promise.
Our overriding drug problem (but certainly not our only drug problem) in the United States involves the illegal use of legal drugs produced by American firms and distributed by American physicians through American pharmacies.
The terrorist threat has not come from hordes of terrorists (or even isolated cases of terrorists) slipping across our southern border. No, sadly, the one documented case of a terrorist coming across our border with munitions intending to kill Americans, came across our northern border from Canada.
What makes President Trump’s Executive Order particularly egregious is that he proudly admitted that it wasn’t necessary. He said, probably quite correctly, that he had the authority to move some funds, presumably from the Defense Department, Homeland Security, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) around sufficiently to do some serious wall building.
But declaring a national emergency—now that’s something he assumes his base will relish. Certainly something over which the likes of Hannity, Limbaugh, Ingraham and Judge Jeanine will probably swoon. Well, that gives us a real problem. It’s the President thumbing his nose at Congress, the Judiciary and, quite probably, the Constitution, which is just about the only thing he is sworn to respect and obey.
The Constitution makes the management of the purse the responsibility of Congress. The Congress addressed the President’s demand for better border security in the bi-partisan bill it sent to him 48-hours ago. He signed the bill, and then in effect, overrode it by declaring a National Emergency. He decided that he, and not Congress, would manage the nation’s purse. He says he took that action to hasten the construction of his great, big, beautiful wall, but instead he has simply assured that the wall will be tied up in litigation, probably for years. Within hours, private property owners had filed suit to stop the taking of their property for Trump’s wall. This is pure Kabuki.
Now, we do have real emergencies in these United States that, arguably, require attention. We have an emergency that kills over 3,000 Americans a month, more than half of whom are young Americans between the ages of 15 and 44. And we know the precise cause of most of these deaths. It’s speed. No, we’re not talking about methamphetamines (although we could). We’re talking about automobile deaths, most of which are caused by speeding on our nation’s roadways. Reduce speed limits and we would drastically reduce highway deaths. Come to think of it, that’s something the President could probably do with a legitimate Executive Order. President Nixon did in 1973, and his Executive Order resulted in an immediate 17% decrease in highway fatalities—nearly 10,000 lives (mostly young lives) were saved. Now, that would be an entirely justifiable and beneficial Executive Order, albeit a uniformly unpopular one.
President Trump wouldn’t touch that one with a ten-foot pole. His minions would revolt (along with almost everyone else). So, we’ll build a wall. Visa overstays will, undoubtedly, increase. So will vehicle border crossings at designated border-entry points. In fact, all three-hundred legal visitor points-of-entry will surely see a big increase, and, for sure, many of those visitors will not leave when they are supposed to. After all, that’s how most illegal immigration takes place today.
We will, undoubtedly, cut off the flow of many poor migrants and asylum seekers. But the really bad ones—they’ll keep coming until we begin to seriously enforce our visa entry laws.
It’s all Kabuki folks.
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