The Constitution states, “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” Yet President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE has announced that he will dismiss this dictum and sign a national emergency to spend about $8 billion on a border wall that is opposed by Congress. He said, “We are going to be signing today and registering a national emergency and it is a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people, and it is unacceptable.”
Nowhere in the Constitution is there a national emergency clause that lets the president spend money not allocated by Congress. Trump and his supporters argue that the National Emergencies Act of 1976 grants him this authority. But even Trump admitted his order will be challenged in the courts. Constitutional conservatives should be concerned by his move. Declaring a state of emergency where none exists to overcome the will of Congress is a direct threat to the separation of powers and rule of law.
While legal scholars can debate whether this is constitutional, there can be no dispute that the current situation at the southern border is not a national emergency. Border apprehensions are down 80 percent since the beginning of the century. More asylum seekers are voluntarily turning themselves in. Drugs are overwhelmingly coming through legal ports of entry. Net illegal immigration has been at zero for several years. Most new illegal immigrants arrive legally then overstay their visas. The wall is a divisive obsession. It is not sound public policy.
The declaration made by Trump is little more than an exercise to free himself from the political box canyon he has put himself in. It allows him to declare victory on a border wall fight that he actually lost. It prevents the wrath of the Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingGOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Pence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' MORE wing of the party. It also sets a dangerous precedent for declaring a national emergency when one does not exist in order to advance select causes not supported by the American public.
House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters Buttigieg aims to use Tucker Carlson flap to spotlight paternity leave Judge to hear Trump's case against Jan. 6 committee in November MORE intimated that a future Democratic president may declare a national emergency to address gun violence. A President Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSinema's office outlines opposition to tax rate hikes The CFPB's data overreach hurts the businesses it claims to help Runaway higher ed spending gains little except endless student debt MORE or a President Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe Kamala Harris engages with heckler during New York speech Biden's safe-space CNN town hall attracts small audience, as poll numbers plummet MORE could point to the decision of Trump to justify a national emergency to address climate change or income inequality. The decision made by former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid calls on Democrats to plow forward on immigration Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada The Memo: Biden's horizon is clouded by doubt MORE in 2013 to nuke the 60 vote supermajority needed for judicial appointments is instructive. Republicans used that precedent to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughLocked and Loaded: Supreme Court is ready for a showdown on the Second Amendment Why Latinos need Supreme Court reform Feehery: A Republican Congress is needed to fight left's slide to autocracy MORE, both of whom almost surely would not have received the 60 votes that are needed otherwise.
The decision made by Trump to declare a national emergency to secure border wall funding may similarly backfire on Republicans. Courageous Republicans should publicly oppose this decision. They should confront the president on his immigration policy, which is repelling millennials, suburbanites, and independents ahead of the next election. Rather than invoking an emergency, Republicans should explore new ways to bring some of these economic migrants in legally on work visas. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “rather than talking about putting up a fence,” we must “make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit.”
The Labor Department announced this week that there are more than seven million unfilled jobs in the United States. That is 800,000 more positions than the number of Americans currently unemployed. Across the country, businesses are being forced to run below capacity because they cannot find workers. This artificially reduces economic growth and standards of living. The Labor Department also estimates that over the next decade alone, we will need more than one million home care aids.
Making it easier for economic migrants to pursue the American dream in the tradition of our forefathers would boost our growth and improve the situation at the southern border because our officials would be able to focus on national security threats rather than those seeking work. There are much better solutions to the illegal immigration problem. Traditional Republicans are the ones to offer them. Trumpian Republicans with their unconstitutional, grandstanding, and ineffective border policies are not.
Jordan Bruneau is a policy analyst at the Becoming American Initiative.