There Is No ‘National Emergency’ at the Border, and Trump’s Declaration Is Illegal

After more than a month of threats, a government shutdown, and bipartisan action by Congress, President Trump has finally declared a national emergency to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on his border wall obsession. In response, the ACLU will file a lawsuit early next week challenging this blatantly illegal executive action.

Let’s get something straight upfront: There is no emergency. Members of Congress from both parties, security experts, and Americans who live at the border have all said so. What the president is doing is yet another illegal and dangerous power grab in service of his anti-immigrant agenda.

Trump’s declaration damages the rule of law and violates the constitutional checks and balances that protect us, the people, from a president’s abuse of power. The Constitution provides that Congress has the power to spend federal funds — our taxpayer dollars. And Congress has enacted a law that gives the president limited power to spend federal funds without a congressional appropriation when he declares a national emergency. That law lets the president spend taxpayer money on military construction when “necessary to support” the emergency use of armed forces.

What Trump is doing is patently illegal, because there is no emergency. He even admitted it himself during his press conference today: “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

And that’s the truth.

Three weeks ago, Trump announced that if Congress didn’t give him what he wanted, he would declare a national emergency. This week, Congress reached a bipartisan deal to avert another government shutdown and appropriated $1.375 billion for the border wall. President Trump disagrees with Congress’s decision and wants to spend more. That is not an emergency. It’s an unconstitutional usurpation of Congress’s spending power by the president.

The president’s action damages our democracy, and it also hurts our country and the American people in other ways. Security experts have pointed out that the irrational building of a border wall has done nothing to address the supposed “problems” Trump is worried about. Criminal cartels easily circumvent walls by tunneling under them or shipping drugs and contraband through official ports of entry. And the original scapegoats of Trump’s border wall obsession — families seeking asylum — have a legal right under U.S. and international law to apply for refuge, which they do by presenting themselves to U.S. border agents.

Americans who actually live, work, and visit at the border also stand to suffer from Trump’s border wall obsession. The president has indicated that he will target portions of the border in wilderness areas in Texas, where the construction of a wall will destroy national treasures — for no good purpose.

Cooler heads have tried and failed to get the president to back down on his illegal and irrational threat. Trump has finally made his move, and he can be sure we will, too. Come next week, we’ll see him in court.

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Jeffrey noe

I wish to know an answer to a question. How many times has the ACLU filed a lawsuit against a Democratic president? It seems like you would find more reasonable Outlets to spend donated money and taxpayers money then other frivolous lawsuits of suing the president over 100 times in two years. The Arnold civil liberties being broken here they're not American citizens he's building a wall to securamerica. Americans. Not Guatemalans, not Nicaraguan, not Colombians, Americans. It really really irritates me to think that your organization is so high and mighty and better than thou that you would waste money against the lawsuit against President Trump when he is instituting a law that was put in the books by the Congress under President Clinton. It seems more and more that the ACLU is run by the Nancy Pelosi organization and the Chuck Schumer cartel to get things done. Because I sure haven't seen any lawsuits against a Democratic president.


The ACLU doesn't have to adopt your deplorable view of things. Get a clue and find yourself some Republican Conservative charity to support, I hear the Trump 2020 campaign is paying lawyers fees up the ying-yang so you can give your time and money to them. Like the farmers across the American breadbasket you can go bankrupt by giving into the idiotic use of tariffs to bargain international trade.

Gary Day

The reason is because they only go against conservative ideas. they are just as bad as liberal judges. The constitution is just something that gits in their way.


The act was passed in response to the Iran hostage crisis in 1976, long before Clinton's administration. Please get your facts straight. This seems to be a common problem among Trump supporters.


Agree. And the ACLU continues to enjoy non-tax status with the IRS because they claim to be non-partisan. It is a disgrace!
I challenge the ACLU right now...if you truly stand for civil liberties of ALL people, file a class action lawsuit on behalf of the "Angel Families" who have suffered loss at the hands of illegal aliens. The failed immigration policies, sanctuary city policies, and open borders case INJURY and/or DEATH to American Citizens. Let's see how non-partisan ACLU is....


Honestly? This comment is utterly ridiculous. Trump is clearly declaring a national emergency in order to funnel money towards his (weird and pointless) pet project of a wall, despite the fact that illegal immigration through the southern border has decreased sharply since the early 2000s and the fact that most illegal immigration is through expired visas (which this wall won't affect, at all). And guess what, those illegal overstays of visas? Mostly committed by Canadians. Not the hispanic people that you and your racist president detest. Can you imagine the outrage if any Democratic president declared a national emergency in order to, I dunno, do something actually useful like ending child hunger in America? Fox "News" and the insanity of the heavily conservatively biased media would have a field day. Quite frankly, the ACLU is trying to stop future presidents from outrageously declaring national emergencies over any made up thing so that they can fund whatever they want. And, quite frankly, historical precedent shows that this action is blatantly illegal.

Ken Jacobson

This president is so, so wearying. It's a constant and continuous battle with him to be a president for all Americans.


He is requiring Americans to serve up what he wants, exceptionalism for he alone. No matter what dumb-nut thing he says, how he mispronounces names, belabors his self-perceived accomplishments, gives out false statistics and refuses to admit he made mistakes on matters of fact, abuses the Justice apparatus of the nation, and how he subverts the intelligence community -- he is excepted. Billionaires must have immunity or something.



SGT Fuentes

How could you ignore what is happening at the border? If there is 20 million plus people and counting in the United do you think they got here? Illegally. Then you have those who fraudulently claim asylum... only to disappear and never show up to their asylum hearing... so these angel moms who lost loved ones. U dont care for them. Those deaths could have been prevented.


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