UPDATED below Feb. 15, 2019, 2:00 pm: President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on the southern border Friday, in order to divert nearly $6.5 billion in unspent federal funds to build the border wall, which members of Congress have refused to authorize. Trump said his emergency order was necessary “to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border.”
Following the emergency declaration Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in doubling down on the claim that the California/Mexico border crisis is “political theater” and a “manufactured crisis,” and that the president lacks authority to build the wall:
“President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power and subvert the constitution,” Newsom said in a press statement. “This ’emergency’ is a national disgrace, and the blame lays solely at the feet of the President. Meanwhile, he plans to shutdown and divert funds used by California law enforcement that run counter-narcotics operations and fight drug cartels to build his wall. Our message back to the White House is simple and clear: California will see you in court.”
President Trump has the legal authority to take Executive action to secure additional resources, under the National Emergencies Act, a post-Watergate reform statute enacted in 1976 and signed into law by President Gerald Ford. Prior to the enactment of the National Emergencies Act, many presidents, relying on their implied constitutional authority, had simply declared national emergencies when they believed it was warranted, the Heritage Foundation reports.
According to Heritage, here are some of the points the administration has been making for its case:
- Arguing that the flow of drugs across the border has dramatically increased, claiming that 90 percent of illegal drugs entering our country come across the southern border and that during the last fiscal year, there was a 73 percent increase in fentanyl (amounting to 2,400 pounds) and a 38 percent increase in methamphetamine and heroin coming over the southern border.
- Citing profits being made by “coyotes” who carry migrants across the border as well as the horrific conditions to which those migrants are subjected. The administration claims that criminal organizations derive $2.5 billion in profits every year from smuggling migrants into the U.S., and that 68.3 percent of all migrants report having been subjected to an act of violence and 31 percent of female migrants report having been sexually assaulted while en route.
- Highlighting the fact that during the last fiscal year, Customs and Border Protection agents stopped 17,000 adults at the southern border who had criminal records, and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents apprehended 6,000 known or suspected gang members at the border.
- Pointing to the mayhem wrought by many of the illegal aliens who successfully entered our country. In his speech, the president noted that over the last two years, 266,000 illegal immigrants have been charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 murders.
- Arguing that with caravans of people arriving at the border, the system is simply overwhelmed. The administration is claiming that during the last fiscal year, 60,000 unaccompanied children and 161,000 family units arrived at the border; that 98 percent of family units and unaccompanied alien children are never removed; that there has been a 2,000 percent increase in asylum claims over the last five years; and that immigration courts currently have a backlog of nearly 800,000 cases.
- Noting that many Democrats who now oppose building a wall once supported the concept. Indeed, in 2006, 26 Democratic senators—including Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden—voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act, which empowered the Department of Homeland Security to build “physical infrastructure enhancements” along the border. Congress, however, has never appropriated the funds for this purpose.
Gov. Newsom signed an order Monday removing the California National Guard from the California/Mexico border calling much of what they Guard was doing a “grey area.”
However, it was not Donald Trump who signed the order to deploy the California National Guard, it was former Gov. Jerry Brown who complied with the President’s request. As for the “grey area” at the border, California National Guard Major General David S. Baldwin said that at the border, National Guard troops were tasked with assisting the Border Patrol on border intrusions, under the orders of Gov. Brown. “However, our current governor feels those are grey areas,” and doesn’t want the National Guard involved in those activities.
At an 11:00am press conference called by Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra to discuss the President’s national emergency declaration, the security was so tight, there was a bomb-sniffing dog brought in. Reporters had to place all equipment on the ground for the dog to check out before we were allowed into the conference room.
Once the press conference started, AG Becerra, who has already sued President Donald Trump 46 times, claimed Trump’s emergency declaration is “unconstitutional” and “dubious.”
Newsom repeatedly said Trump’s border crisis declaration is “a monument to stupidity. Ask any expert how these drugs are getting across the border – the drugs are coming through ports of entry through traditional means – tractor trailers, boats.
“He can’t do this,” Becerra said. “The Constitution gives Congress, not the President, powers to do this.”
Becerra continued: “I believe Trump is telegraphing that he knows this is not a true national emergency. He’s hoping to use the Supreme Court as a tool in his game to fulfill a campaign promise.”
“Nancy Pelosi has run circles around the President not once, but twice,” Newsom said. “His base need to to be fed.”
“I don’t want to be a sparing partner with President Trump, but he makes it impossible.”
Becerra finally acknowledged that the President has power to declare national emery, but added, “this is not 9/11. This is not the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. This is a president showing his disdain for the rule of law and our U.S Constitution. From California, seeing this is nothing new.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom discussed his visit to Paradise in Butte County, CA this week to observe the fire damage and meet with the peopel, and criticized the President for holding up FEMA funding. “There are certain areas that need to be above politics,” Newsom said.
And then he said that the President’s emergency declaration is “the theater of the absurd,” and is creating “a sideshow to the real work that needs to be done. If only we had a president who wanted to do the right thing,” Newsom added.
When asked by a reporter since he doesn’t characterize the border situation as a “crisis,” how does he characterize it?
“Let’s deal in facts,” Newsom said once again this week, and rattled off the same statistics he’s used in every press conference this week about the border crisis: “California has the lowest number of border crossings since 1971,”Newsom said. “People living here without documentation commit crimes at a lower level than those here legally. There are “550,000 fewer people in this state without documentation than a decade ago.” I reported the same statements Monday, and Tuesday.