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Border Security

Why President Trump Can And Should Declare A National Emergency At Our Southern Border (Part I)

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President Donald Trump should use the U.S. military to build the border wall along the United States’ international line with Mexico by declaring a national emergency, according to conservative analysts and commentators, supporters of President Donald Trump, and evidently off-the-record leaks from Trump Administration officials.

Many speculated whether President Trump would use his first-ever address to the nation from the Oval Office  to declare that emergency.  However, good political observation would suggest that Trump is laying out his case in multiple steps rather than a single shot.  Trump’s visit to the border on January 10 is likely to emphasize the dangers of an unprotected frontier, which will be gradually increasing heat on the question of danger to the nation.

Trump did — apparently for the first time — call on the American people to call their Members of Congress at (202) 225-3121.  This was a staple of Ronald Reagan’s success in getting a Democrat-dominated U.S. House of Representatives to pass Reagan’s conservative policies.  (Hint: Mr. President, you can’t just do that once.  Reagan called on his supporters to call Congress again and again and again.  Getting the American people to melt down the Capitol switchboard is not a one-off throw-away line.  It requires a sustained campaign.)

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First, Congress has given a president the power to declare a national emergency in 50 U.S.C. 1621:  ” (a) With respect to Acts of Congress authorizing the exercise, during the period of a national emergency, of any special or extraordinary power, the President is authorized to declare such national emergency. Such proclamation shall immediately be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register.”

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However, this group of laws allows the Congress to over-turn a president’s declaration of an emergency.  But clearly the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate would not join the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives:

50 U.S.C. §1622. National emergencies

(a) Termination methods

Any national emergency declared by the President in accordance with this subchapter shall terminate if—

(1) there is enacted into law a joint resolution terminating the emergency; or

(2) the President issues a proclamation terminating the emergency.

* * *

(c) Joint resolution; referral to Congressional committees; conference committee in event of disagreement; filing of report; termination procedure deemed part of rules of House and Senate

(1) A joint resolution to terminate a national emergency declared by the President shall be referred to the appropriate committee of the House of Representatives or the Senate, as the case may be. One such joint resolution shall be reported out by such committee together with its recommendations within fifteen calendar days after the day on which such resolution is referred to such committee, unless such House shall otherwise determine by the yeas and nays.

* * *

Second,the declaration of an emergency allows the President to reprogram funds in the military budget.  See 33 U.S. Code § 2293 “Reprogramming during national emergencies.”  Federal funds appropriated by Congress can be “reprogrammed” to a different purpose than originally intended when Congress passed the appropriations bill.  It happens all the time. It will happen maybe dozens of times this year as it did last year and the year before that. Usually, these are very minor, even trivial, changes in which funds are applied to nearly-identical purposes due to changing circumstances or the like.  (Just as an example, money can’t be spent on a research project because a company goes out of business, so the money is used for the nearest equivalent purpose.)

The rules for reprogramming appropriations are vastly complex depending on the exact wording of particular appropriations bills, the regulations governing each individual department or agency, the nature of the proposed reprogramming of funds, etc.  Doing this will require true federal budgeting experts to carefully lay the groundwork and do this meticulously and correctly.  It cannot be done with bluster and bravado.

But remember:  When Trump signed the highly-controversial (as being excessive) omnibus bill a year ago with $700 billion for military spending, Trump telegraphed at the time — a year ago — that he might re-purpose some of that $700 billion to building a border wall.  One has to hope that the Swamp King Mitch McConnell, as the seasoned Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate knew how to massage the wording of that omnibus appropriations to smooth that path.

[UPDATE:  Frank Friday at American Thinker today adds a useful tidbit:  In Arizona, the massive Goldwater Air Force Bombing Range adjoins the Mexican border.  Illegal aliens have long been making the crossing here because it is wide open, but the bombing range is dangerous.  Building a wall to keep people from wandering into a bombing range is a reasonable use of Department of Defense funds.]

Third, what does it mean to “build the wall?”  Initial steps would (one imagines) include (a) surveying every mile of the border (drawing on existing databases of both mapping, geological conditions, and ownership records), (b) prioritizing where natural conditions are foreboding to both border-crossing and construction, (c) building access roads along the border where not already in place, (d) planning for and moving construction equipment into the area to travel along the entire border on access roads and be put to use, including sufficient fuel and other parts and supplies, and (e) planning for and providing living quarters for construction crews, probably as mobile homes capable of being moved all along the border.

Those all sound like legitimate roles for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Remember that the interstate highway system was built under President Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership partly because of its military value for moving military troops and equipment rapidly around the country to defend the nation.  The ability to rapidly move troops, tanks, and other military equipment along access roads along the border surely has military value in and of itself.

Fourth, preparatory work for building a wall also includes acquiring easements or ownership across land privately owned along the border.  This was one of the reasons that the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was never fully implemented.  Let’s say that a private rancher owns 10,000 acres that runs up to the international border.  The “designed to fail” approach is to try to acquire the entire 10,000 acres because those working on it do not want a wall to be built.  The standard legal and governmental approach would be to acquire an easement — not full ownership — over a strip maybe 500 feet wide right next to the border.

It is absurd and outrageous for any person to own the international border.  That should be immediately rejected as shockingly ridiculous.  The international border should be owned by the U.S. Government, including a healthy buffer of land next to the border.  If there were ever a war along the border, should we have to ask permission from private land-owners?  It is hard to imagine a stronger case for taking the land by eminent domain.

NOTE:   This article will be continued in a second installment focusing on the chances of court challenges to such actions by the President.  Stay tuned for Part II.

Border Security

South Texas Latinos Reject Radical Open Borders and Anti-Police Message

Latinos are Not the Monolith that Democrat Strategists Make Them Out to Be

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Again and again the media insist that there are no Hispanics who support President Donald Trump. 

The 2020 election proved otherwise. Todd Bensman of the Center of Immigration Studies observed that strong border policies may have explained why Trump was able to make solid gains with Hispanics in Texas’ border counties. This runs against the conventional narrative GOP strategists are pushing, which argues that generic economic policy caused these voters to flip.

CIS did a number of interviews with residents living near the Texas border and in counties such as Cameron, Frio, La Salle, Starr, Val Verde, Webb, and Zapata, all which have been traditional Democrat strongholds. Many of these people were repelled by Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s support for lockdowns and transitioning away from natural gas. However, this was only the tip of the iceberg. 

Bensman offered a nuanced take that no one in the media is covering:

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But that was the least of it. Left largely unreported in the national press is that hundreds of thousands of Latino voters in rural Texas — the sons and daughters of early legal migration — also felt repulsed by the 2019 mass-migration crisis during which nearly one million illegal Central Americans swamped the border as Democratic voices encouraged it, litigated efforts to staunch the tide, and promised open gates under a Biden administration.

“The immigration thing was another reason. A lot of our community from Mexico came here legally. Others were born here in Texas,” declared Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez. Martinez has been a Democrat all of his life and won a fourth term in office in Val Verde County. The county flipped red the first time in decades. 

“The general feeling is that if someone comes to the U.S. they need to do it legally. I think that was probably a good majority of the Republican vote, yes,” Martinez added.

For Gilbert Rodriguez, a fourth-generation co-owner of an industrial equipment business in Del Rio, Texas, a Biden presidency represented more of the same. He is a diehard Republican who has generally felt politically isolated.

Rodriguez’s family has strong roots in the area, which Bensman observed in his piece:

Rodriguez said his mother’s family stretches back as a recipient of one of the region’s original Spanish land grants. His father’s family has lived on the Texas side for generations in the same area as proud Americans of Mexican heritage.

The massive wave of migrants coming from all over the world during 2018 to 2019 spooked Rodriguez and his Latino counterparts in the region. Bensman expanded on this:

The experience of seeing “armies” of unvetted strangers from all over the world — Haitians, Congolese, Middle Easterners, and others — pour over from Mexico during 2018 and 2019, with the encouragement and political protection of national Democrats, not only turned off many Latinos in the region to the party but also ‘scared them shitless”, explained Rodriguez, who lives 500 feet from the Rio Grande and recalled how Border Patrol would routinely ‘line them up and frisk them on our fence’.

“It’s not just Mexican people, and they’re not coming one or two at a time. There are thousands and thousands,” Rodriguez said in an interview with CIS. “A lot of the Hispanics don’t like that. They don’t like that. They’re saying, ‘our people filled out the papers and paid the fees and followed the rule of law.’ They want everyone to follow the law. Just … follow the law. And instead these people are just coming over and flipping the bird at us and just saying, ‘feed me.'”

For many people living in border counties, Border Patrol and ICE provide employment opportunities and economic advancement. Border counties are among the poorest in the U.S. So it was natural that voters in this region were repelled by certain Democrat factions’ proposals to abolish ICE and their overall attacks on border enforcement. Tony Castaneda, the former police chief of Eagle Pass and Republican precinct chairman in Maverick County, cited the Democrat’s hostility towards law enforcement — be it border enforcers or regular police — as the principal drivers behind South Texas Hispanics’ drift towards President Trump.

“The left attacks, and all the unrest and stuff like that, yes. The Border Patrol guys … they were really upset about people not accepting them,” Castaneda stated.

The Latino border voter base has taken note of the crisis at the border and has rejected empty media allegations about racism on the part of President Trump. For these Hispanics, border security takes precedence over Fake New disinformation.

“The media — CNN, ABC, CBS — they kept pounding and pounding and pounding about Trump not liking Hispanics, and again I go back to the same line: A lot of people believed he was not a racist, that it was just political jargon to lambast the president,” commented Castaneda.

Hispanics aren’t a monolith and there’s a growing minority that firmly believe in upholding political American principles. Nationalist leaders should avoid the mistakes that Conservatism Inc. has made with this demographic and instead appeal to them by talking about law and order and immigration restriction. 

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