An impressive list of 58 former national security officials — who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents — have released a declaration attacking the fiction that there is an “emergency” along the southern border, justifying President Trump’s power grab. Coming on the eve of Tuesday’s House vote on a resolution to short-circuit the declaration, it makes clear the degree to which Republican lawmakers will endanger national security to stay on Trump’s good side.
The officials state:
At the outset, there is no evidence of a sudden or emergency increase in the number of people seeking to cross the southern border. According to the administration’s own data, the numbers of apprehensions and undetected illegal border crossings at the southern border are near forty-year lows. Although there was a modest increase in apprehensions in 2018, that figure is in keeping with the number of apprehensions only two years earlier, and the overall trend indicates a dramatic decline over the last fifteen years in particular.
They also make clear, “There is no reason to believe that there is a terrorist or national security emergency at the southern border that could justify the President’s proclamation.”
What about the president’s claim that illegal immigrants create a crime problem. Nope. “Nor can the administration justify its actions on the grounds that the incidence of violent crime on the southern border constitutes a national emergency," the statement reads. "Factual evidence consistently shows that unauthorized immigrants have no special proclivity to engage in criminal or violent behavior.”
What about drug trafficking? Not a legitimate reason, the officials say. “The overwhelming majority of opioids that enter the United States across a land border are carried through legal ports of entry in personal or commercial vehicles, not smuggled through unauthorized border crossings. A border wall would not stop these drugs from entering the United States.”
What’s more, these experts make a convincing argument that Trump’s use of defense funds for his wall hurts national security. Those Republicans who go along with the charade have no credibility on national security. The former officials explain:
Repurposing funds from the defense construction budget will drain money from critical defense infrastructure projects, possibly including improvement of military hospitals, construction of roads, and renovation of on-base housing. And the proclamation will likely continue to divert those armed forces already deployed at the southern border from their usual training activities or missions, affecting troop readiness.
In addition, the administration’s unilateral, provocative actions are heightening tensions with our neighbors to the south, at a moment when we need their help to address a range of Western Hemisphere concerns. These actions are placing friendly governments to the south under impossible pressures and driving partners away. . . .
Finally, by declaring a national emergency for domestic political reasons with no compelling reason or justification from his senior intelligence and law enforcement officials, the President has further eroded his credibility with foreign leaders, both friend and foe. Should a genuine foreign crisis erupt, this lack of credibility will materially weaken this administration’s ability to marshal allies to support the United States, and will embolden adversaries to oppose us.
In short, the declaration should strip away the veneer of concern over national security by which Republicans justify their support of an unconstitutional usurpation of congressional power. Not only is there no emergency, but Republicans will damage national security by further enabling Trump’s stunt.
This should be a reminder that the GOP is a party without principles or values. Fidelity to the Constitution, ensuring the nation’s security, and even simple honesty are foreign to this gang. They have become apparatchiks in Trump’s authoritarian scheme. No voter — Republican, Democrat or independent — should allow such a cynical breach of these lawmakers’ oaths of office. They are as unfit — more so, because they can read the declaration and other data — as Trump and should be banished from office in 2020. The Republican Party will likely make an irreversible decision today and, in doing so, would confirm my long-held belief that it is not a political organization worthy of salvaging.
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