Trump will declare emergency to fund wall

The bipartisan bill to fund the government is a disaster. As I explained here, per Mark Krikorian, it is unlikely to enable more than minimal wall building.

In addition, it appears to prevent ICE from detaining or removing any illegal immigrant who has, in effect, any relationship with an “unaccompanied” minor. Among other evils, this will create an incentive for illegal immigrants already here to order up kids from Central America as human shields against deportation.

President Trump should have stayed on top of congressional negotiations and made it clear that he would not sign such a bill. Instead, he seems to have been asleep at the switch.

Now, the White House says Trump will sign the bill, which has overwhelming support in both chambers of Congress. However, it also says Trump declare a national emergency and, in response to said emergency, move money around to fund the building of more wall. From what I’ve heard, the administration will find around $8 billion for this purpose.

There are, nonetheless, serious problems with signing the bipartisan funding bill. First, declaring a national emergency will do nothing to address depriving ICE of the ability to detain or remove illegal immigrants who can claim a relationship with an unaccompanied minor.

The White House says the Department of Homeland Security will interpret this loophole narrowly and vigorously enforce its narrow interpretation. We’ll see. I’m skeptical of relying on bureaucrats. Moreover, a narrow interpretation will, I imagine, produce court challenges in which the administration might not prevail.

Second, it’s far from clear that the administration will prevail when its redirection of funds/declaration of emergency is challenged in court. Indeed, as I explained here, by signing a bill that funds the wall at a particular level, Trump may undermine his case that an emergency exists because the wall isn’t funded a higher level.

Third, if Trump does prevail, it will be at a cost. That cost will be a precedent for moving funds around based on future claims of national emergency. Democrat presidents can be expected to use the precedent Trump sets aggressively and for bad purposes.

Any way you look at it, Trump has botched this battle. There’s no outcome that won’t produce harm.

I doubt that Trump cares, unless the harm is to him politically. He likely sees this as a case of win-don’t lose. He wins if he gets to spend $8 billion or more on the wall. The harm caused by expanding presidential power won’t inflict any pain on him.

He doesn’t lose politically (or might not) if the judiciary blocks him. As long as Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh vote for his position, he can blame “activist liberal” judges appointed by other presidents.

Trump won the nomination in large part because Republican voters were disgusted at how little Republicans achieved even with control of both the House and Senate. This was the constant drumbeat from Sean Hannity and other important Trump supporters.

The wall fiasco, even if Trump gets to spend $8 billion (the initial price tag was $25 billion), is an example of how Republicans have underachieved even with control of the House, the Senate, and the White House.


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