President Signs Deal to Avert Shutdown but Declares National Emergency

Credit: Alexsl

(Español) President Trump has signed a budget deal in order to avert another government shutdown but, in the process, has declared a national emergency in order to acquire funds to build a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. The budget deal included $1.375 billion to fund the fencing along the southern border. The president originally requested $5.7 billion for steel walls along the same border. The deal also includes a minor increase in budget for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the department which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Democrats originally attempted to limit any form of budget increase for DHS as they saw it for the president to continue his use of ICE as an arresting authority with little oversight. Within the new legislation, immigrant advocates and some liberal lawmakers have stated it will allow ICE to continue unabated in their ever increasing actions to detain any and every undocumented immigrant, regardless of criminal record or lack thereof. Democratic lawmakers involved in the process of drafting the legislation indicated they believe the budget will limit ICE’s ability to detain immigrants. This is mostly done through the provisions included to limit the number of beds ICE has access to throughout the country. While higher than Democrat’s initial offer, Republicans still had to settle for smaller than what they wanted.

The issue at stake now is the president’s declaration of a national emergency to acquire funds for his wall. After signing the legislation, the president declared a national emergency, citing the drugs, trafficking, and immigration coming through the southern border. Using these powers, his administration will reallocate unspent defense budget money in order to divert the funds to build the wall along the southern border. For weeks, officials in the defense department have been studying areas where they can delay or cancel building projects should the president reallocate the funds. The move is contentious among not only Democrats, but also some Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Many wanted the president to not use the declaration for fear of future repercussions from other presidents based on this potentially precedent setting move. Meanwhile, Democrats have already promised a litany of legal challenges to the president’s declaration. It remains to be seen who far his declaration can go and what ability legal challenges will present.