Like the Berlin Wall, Trump’s Fetish Is an Affront to Humanity
The only ‘border emergency’ is inside the White House.
Let’s be clear: There is no “border emergency.” Our country is going through the turmoil of a partial government shutdown because of a presidential campaign promise based on divisiveness, xenophobia and racism.
President Trump and congressional Republicans have been unable to articulate a unified and coherent reason for a border wall. It has become a metaphor for perhaps a large sign, simply reading, “KEEP OUT, ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR.” That’s probably the reason why 56% of the American people oppose the construction of a border wall.
There is not a shred of evidence that “terrorists” are sneaking across our Mexican border. Border crossings are quite low by historical standards. The only increase at our southern border is the number of families lawfully seeking asylum from life-threatening violence in Central America. The only emergency here is family separation, a heart-breaking, self-inflicted wound.
Trump’s Oval Office assertion that drug smuggling can be curtailed by a border wall is contradicted by his own Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA recently assessed that only a small percentage of illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl is smuggled between existing ports of entry. Most come into this country through the ports themselves.
White supremacist Iowa Congressman Steven Kings’s allegation that “evil” marijuana smugglers “with calves the size of cantaloupes” run drugs through the desert or wilderness is fact-free mythology.
A Military Intervention Is illegal
Trump’s threat to declare a national emergency and use the US military to build the border wall violates a number of laws and the US Constitution. It’s right there in our most sacred document: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by law.” Simply put, the Department of Defense lacks the appropriation to construct a wall.
There’s talk of Trump invoking the National Emergencies Act to engage the military in wall construction. The NEA has been used just once: After the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9/11, for work on military installations and storing sensitive materials.
But it’s not enough just to declare an emergency. The executive branch must be able to show that the emergency at issue necessitates the use of the armed forces.
It is almost amusing to realize that the de facto leaders of the resistance against the border wall…many of them Trump supporters…are private landowners in the Rio Grande Valley on the Mexican border. Trump needs private property to build his wall.
Dozens of landowners have recently opened surprise letters from the federal government, requesting access to their properties for “surveys, soil tests, equipment storage and other actions.” The letters are obviously the first step in the federal government’s attempt to seize the properties using the power of eminent domain, a tool most often used for the construction of highways and other necessary additions to our landscape.
Representatives from the Texas Civil Right Project have knocked on about 100 doors, urging landowners to not even grant access. They’ve no doubt discovered that they don’t need to be that persuasive.
Rather than surrender their land, many landowners are determined to reject all buy-out offers and fight the feds in court. Eminent domain proceedings take years, as George W. Bush found out in 2006 when his Secure Fence Act fizzled.
“You could give me a trillion dollars and I wouldn’t take it,” one landowner said.
“I think they assume we’re ignorant…They’re threatening. They say, ‘You sign or we’ll take it away.’ This is my house!” said another.
Legal experts say Trump cannot waive eminent domain by declaring a national emergency.
Ich Bin Ein Berliner
Of course when it was built in June 1961, the Berlin Wall was meant to stop the mass exodus of East Berliners to the city’s western sector. It was meant to keep people in.
Whatever its purpose, it did not stop the flood of refugees from east to west. At least 171 people were killed trying to get across, a mere speck of those who succeeded. In its time, the Berlin Wall became a symbol of authoritarian oppression, an ugly barricade to the inevitable march of human progress.
When the Berlin Wall was torn down on November 9, 1989, it was a joyful shot of redemption around the world.
If Trump manages to get his wall even partially built, I will look forward to a new generation of Americans tearing the sucker down.
Germans don’t get to have all the fun.