by Jeff Webb
Last week, 12 Republican senators – including Tennessee’s own Lamar Alexander – voted for a resolution to terminate President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the Southern border and his attempt to fund the construction of new sections of the wall. These senators based their votes on the grounds that it sets a potentially dangerous precedent for the president to act unilaterally in this way.
I understand their arguments. After all, who wants to open the door for future President Liz Warren to declare a national emergency so she can unilaterally ban firearms or fossil fuels?
They say that passing immigration reform ought to be done by Congress. On this, they’re 99 percent right – because it ought to have been done by Congress a long time ago. It would be easier to take these senators’ objections more seriously if they had done more than sit on their hands for the past several years.
There is simply no denying that the situation on the border is untenable. The New York Times, hardly the biggest fans of the President’s agenda, reported that unauthorized migrants are entering the country at double the rate from just one year ago, 76,000 in the month of February alone. There simply aren’t enough housing and medical resources to handle wave after wave of these new migrants. Border patrol is at a “breaking point.”
I don’t know about you, but “breaking point” sounds pretty darn close to “emergency” to me.
Even worse, unlike in the past, when the majority of illegal immigrants were single men from Mexico looking for work, the recent migrant groups are mostly composed of families, many including small children.
No kindhearted or right-thinking person can help but sympathize with many of these families’ decisions to try to come to America, even if many are abusing the idea of asylum to illegitimately try to enter the country. In particular, one’s heart goes out to all the children, who are merely victims in this manufactured crisis.
I say “manufactured” because, of course, this crisis didn’t come from nowhere – it was created by the systematic, continual failures of our elected representatives, including Lamar Alexander and the other Republican senators who voted against the declaration.
Two years. Two full years. That’s how long Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. In the White House sat a president who campaigned on the issue of immigration reform more than any other. Does anyone doubt that if they had had the courage to draft and pass a bill, the President would have signed it immediately?
But too many of our elected representatives, in both the House and Senate, have given up the actual task of legislating. They’ve long since decided that they would rather stick their necks out to complain than to answer yay or nay on hard votes.
It is a failure of imagination, a failure of leadership, and a failure to perform their Constitutional duties that have brought us to this unfortunate point.
The question of whether President Trump should use these kinds of extraordinary powers is a debate in which reasonable people can and will disagree. And I’m not opposed to having the debate.
But it’s a debate we shouldn’t have been forced into in the first place.
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Jeff Webb is a Memphis entrepreneur and founder of the political organization The New American Populist.