President Donald Trump will head to his Mar-a-Lago resort and golf club Friday afternoon, hours after declaring a national emergency in order to build a wall on the southern border, according to his public schedule.
The move is not entirely surprising, given Trump’s past behavior in regards to the manufactured crisis.
Last year, the president sent troops to the border, in response to what he said was a worsening humanitarian and national security situation, only to pull them back a short while later, and then, without reason, send troops back again earlier this month. In January, Trump also delivered a televised address to the nation, laying out the supposed “crisis,” but did not declare a state of emergency, instead allowing the partial government shutdown — which began after Trump rejected a bill to fund his border wall because it did not include enough money — to drag on for more than a month.
Trump’s trip to Mar-a-Lago comes one day after lawmakers passed a funding bill to avert another partial government shutdown following the record-breaking 35-day shutdown that began last December and continued through late January. The deal includes $1.375 billion for new fencing on the border, about a quarter of the $5.7 billion Trump has repeatedly demanded for a wall. It also increases the Department of Homeland Security budget to $49.4 billion, $1.7 billion more than last year.
After weeks of reportedly toying with the idea of declaring a state of emergency, in order to go around Congress to build the wall using diverted funds from DHS and the Treasury Department, Trump went through with the plan Friday.
“Today I’m announcing several critical actions that my administration is taking to confront a problem that we have right here at home. We fight wars that are 6,000 miles away, wars we should have never been in in many cases, but we don’t control our own border,” he said, lamenting the flow of drugs into the country, which officials have said mainly come through legal ports of entry. “… So we’re going to be signing today and registering national emergency and it’s a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people and it is unacceptable.”
The White House signaled the president’s plans earlier this week, stating on Thursday that declaring a national emergency was one of several actions Trump planned to take to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Thursday afternoon. “The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border and secure our great country.”
The decision to declare a state of emergency, however, has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.
“The president is trying to make an end run around Congress,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters Thursday.
Republicans have argued that Trump could set a precedent for Democratic presidents.
“We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said Thursday. “Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal.”
Notably, Trump’s argument that there is a crisis at the southern border is not backed up by facts. In recent months, he has claimed that 4,000 suspected “terrorists” came across the border last year.
But as NBC News reported in January, only 41 people cited on CBP’s Terrorist Screening Database were stopped along the southern border between October 2017 and March 2018. Of that number, only six were categorized as “non-U.S. persons.” The remainder were U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents.
Trump has also repeatedly claimed that immigrants are inherently criminal and that caravans of Central American migrants are full of individuals looking to do harm to innocent Americans. However, multiple studies have shown that immigrants are in fact less likely to commit crimes or join gangs than native-born Americans.