On Feb. 15, in an effort to regain political clout with his own base, President Donald Trump declared the crisis along the southern border a national emergency. The announcement came at a time when presidential hopefuls on the Democratic side have ramped up their campaign efforts for the 2020 election. With no border to stand on, it’s clear that Trump’s decision was for political expediency.

For Trump, declaring a national emergency was all he had left. With his initial efforts to gain $25 billion in funding from his Republican Congress floundering this time last year, Trump has sought to bypass Congress for a sum of much less.

Seventeen billion dollars less.

Nonetheless, the declared emergency moves him one step closer, at the very least, to starting his long-promised border wall. The only problem is that the means in no way justify the ends, and by the end of all of this, Trump will have not only put Conservatives in a tight position but himself as well.


Abaya is an architecture graduate student and Community Voices columnist for The Shorthorn.

The announced national emergency has already set a dangerous precedent. Though the funding has not been approved, its mere declaration is a sign to future presidents that bypassing Congress for political gain is acceptable. This is not to say that national emergencies without congressional approval have never been done. But using funds without the consent of Congress has never been done without military necessity.

As Peter Baker of The New York Times states, “White House officials cited only two times that such emergency declarations were used by presidents to spend money without legislative approval — once by President George Bush in 1990 during the run-up to the Persian Gulf war, and again by his son, President George W. Bush, in 2001 after the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.”

Trump has ushered in a new era of politics where the most pressing issue is the one that the president decides. Actions like this should worry Conservatives because just hours after Trump made his announcement regarding the emergency, Democratic representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota pointed out on Twitter, “Our next President should declare a #NationalEmergency on day 1 to address the existential threat to all life on the planet posed by Climate Change.”

As a person who is fervently supportive of a “big beautiful wall” along the southern border, there are still other ways to fund the wall. This is not one of them.

Second, this decision will not help the president in 2020. Trump’s promises throughout the 2016 campaign were that he was going to have “Mexico pay for the wall,” that the wall was going to be made out of concrete, and that it would subsequently grow 10 feet taller every time Democrats criticized it. Now, not only is the wall yet to be built, but it will have to be made of steel slats if it is.

Personally, I couldn’t care less what the material is, but it’s clear that the campaign wall rhetoric will have to come down significantly as compared to years past.

By backtracking on the wall in a number of ways and with no wall actually built, Trump will face his biggest test with Independent voters. There is little doubt that his base will support him to the end, but Independents will be the deciding factor for reelection.

With a majority of Independents supporting him in swing states in 2016, Trump now faces the task of regaining their trust after his recent decision. With all of the snafus that have occurred under his watch these past three years, Trump may have placed himself behind the eight ball.

Other than energizing his base, Trump’s national emergency is at its very least problematic. It simultaneously grants too much power to the president while hurting his chances in the 2020 race. If Trump really wanted his wall, he should have fought harder for it a year ago.



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