Demos Strongly Opposes the President’s Power Grab

Release Date: 
February 15, 2019

Statement to be attributed to Demos President K. Sabeel Rahman

Declaring a “national emergency” for a manufactured border crisis represents an egregious power grab. It is a flagrant abuse of the office of the president.

In proclaiming  a “national emergency,” President Donald Trump has invoked special authority to follow through on his plans to spend billions of dollars to build a border wall. The wall is unnecessary, unpopular, and morally objectionable.  

All persons irrespective of their legal status have a right to be treated respectfully, and with decency. Trump’s racist stance on immigration threatens immigrant communities, communities of color, and the fabric of American society. 

But just as importantly, this declaration is a direct attempt by the president to bypass the will of Congress, which has specifically rejected funding for this very purpose. This action is a threat not only to the safety and well-being of immigrant communities; it is also a threat to our very system of constitutional, democratic checks and balances. The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, and while the Executive Branch possesses some flexibility for genuine emergencies, the invoking of emergency authority to bypass the clearly expressed position of the democratically-elected legislature sets a dangerous precedent. 

Congress must use every measure to fight back, rejecting this Executive power grab and advancing ethical and humane immigration reform.