Fake and Real National Emergencies


Protest in support of refugees (Photo by Fibonacci Blue, used under Creative Commons license)

A bi-partisan group of former national security officials who served under Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama has issued a statement saying there is no factual basis for Trump’s national emergency declaration. According to the Washington Post:

“The former officials’ statement, which will be entered into the Congressional Record, is intended to support lawsuits and other actions challenging the national emergency proclamation and to force the administration to set forth the legal and factual basis for it.”

Republicans are also lining up to oppose Trump’s national emergency declaration. Some 23 Republican former Senators and Representatives signed an open letter to Republicans in Congress, urging them “to honor your oath of office and to protect the Constitution” by passing “a joint resolution terminating the emergency declared by the President.”

Evidence contradicts Trump’s claim of an emergency and of an “invasion of drugs and criminals.” The number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, which  rose until 2007, has steadily declined since then. Unauthorized border crossings have fallen even more dramatically, from a high of 1.6 million apprehensions in 2000 to a low of 400,000 to 500,000 in recent years.

Most immigrants detained by ICE have not been convicted of any crime.

“As of Feb. 9, days before the president’s declaration, nearly 63 percent of the detainees in ICE jails had not been convicted of any crime….

“An average of 59 percent of detainees in custody during this fiscal year had no criminal history, according to ICE.

“It proves this is a fake emergency,” said Kevin Appleby, policy director at the Center for Migration Studies, a New York-based nonpartisan immigration think tank. “It really shows that what the president’s doing is abusing his power based on false information.”

Several other conditions created by Trump’s administration look more like real emergencies. Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a rise in hate groups in the United States.

“The numbers tell a striking story — that this president is not simply a polarizing figure but a radicalizing one,” Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said in a statement. “Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it — with both his rhetoric and his policies. In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to to act on their worst instincts.”…

“The center found that the majority of hate groups in the United States are driven by white supremacist ideology including neo-Nazis; the Ku Klux Klan, which is on the decline; white nationalists; racist skinheads; and neo-Confederates.”

Then there’s the continuing emergency in immigration courts, where the backlog grows every day with nowhere near enough judges to handle the caseload, and with the situation exacerbated by Trump’s arrest-all-immigrants policies and the government shutdown:

“Since October 2017, when the Justice Department approved a plan aimed at reducing the backlog in immigration court, the pending caseload has grown by more than 26%, from 655,932 cases to just shy of 830,000, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Access Records Clearinghouse, which tracks data from immigration courts….

“Even that figure likely understates the backlog because it doesn’t include the impact of the 35-day government shutdown in December and January. Because the system’s roughly 400 immigration judges were furloughed during the shutdown, some 60,000 hearings were canceled. Thousands were rescheduled, adding to the already long wait times.

“The administration “has not only failed to reduce the backlog, but has eroded the court’s ability to ensure due process” by pressuring judges to rule “at a breakneck pace” on whether an immigrant should be removed from the United States, the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. — a nonprofit organization of more than 15,000 immigration attorneys and law professors — said in a statement.”

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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