17th February 2019
Trump and cohorts examine a wall ‘prototype’
United States president, Donald Trump, has declared a “national emergency” on the country’s southern border with Mexico, in an attempt to secure the funds to build the controversial wall between the two countries. Trump’s announcement was linked with his willingness to sign a bill to avoid another government shutdown, the last of which lasted for 35 days over the Xmas and New Year period, and affected 800,000 public sector employees.
Many of the federal workers, who were locked out or forced to work without pay for five weeks, still have not been paid, are struggling with rent and mortgage arrears and many are threatened by property repossession, such are Trump’s ‘man of the people’ credentials.
The bill, which released federal funds and avoided another government shutdown, sanctioned the release of $333 billion of which only $1.3 billion was designated for “border security”, Trump’s euphemism for the wall, which is well short of the estimated $5 billion + required to build a structure along the 2000 mile border with Mexico.
Opponents have already questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s declaration under the National Emergencies Act, which was designed to allocate funds to major natural disasters or catastrophic events.
Senator Bernie Sanders has made his opposition plain, stating,
“It is clear to me that there is not a ‘national emergency’ with regard to the southern border. What President Trump is doing is unlawful and must be opposed vigorously in the courts and legislatively.”
Sanders is one of the promoters of two bills in Congress aimed at preventing the president from diverting military construction and disaster relief funds into the building of the wall. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi has been clear that,
“This is not a national emergency and the president’s fearmongering doesn’t make it one.” Adding that, “Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and…naked contempt for the rule of law.”
Attorney Generals from states across the US are preparing legal challenges if Trump looks to divert federal funds for the border wall project.
While the national emergency is widely seen by Democrats as a money grab by the President, the Communist Party of the USA has seen even more sinister intent behind the move. In the People’s World (15/2/19) paper of the CPUSA, it was suggested that for most Republicans building the wall was not the main issue,
“What they really want is to keep the issue alive to stir up racism and fear among white voters. Their hope is that white voters in general, like much of the Trump base, will see immigrants and people of color as the enemy. That fear plus fear of socialism and communism and the fear that Democrats are the party of all those “invaders” and “socialists” seems to be the way they want to go for the 2020 Trump re-election campaign. And even if Trump is impeached the strategy will work, they hope, for the rest of the Republican Party. The phony “national emergency” helps lay the groundwork for this racist strategy while, at the same time, testing just how far the president can go in overthrowing constitutional norms.”
Pro-Latino groups in the US have certainly expressed concern that, whether or not the wall gets built, Trump is drumming up a racist agenda with more money for beds in detention centres and a massive increase in agents to run down undocumented migrants. The scapegoating of the Latino community as criminals certainly appears to be a key focus of the funding package and one which representatives of the Latino communities in the US intend to vigorously oppose.
Trump himself has been his usual blasé self, announcing in a press conference,
“We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit, even though it shouldn’t be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we’ll get another bad ruling and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court.”
Clearly Trump is relying upon the conservative Supreme Court to go his way but, even without this outcome, the legal wrangling will no doubt fuel his re-election campaign as 2020 approaches. Without a single brick being laid in the building of a wall Trump’s racist agenda will set the tone for the next battle for the White House. The Democrats will need a determined and pro-people based campaign to make sure the Trump bandwagon does not gather momentum.