Mr. Trump’s emer­gency

The Washington Post - - TUESDAY OPINION -

Pres­i­dent Trump and his ad­vis­ers know his emer­gency power grab of­fers po­lit­i­cal cover for avoid­ing an­other shut­down by sign­ing a bud­get bill without wall fund­ing. A court’s in­junc­tion would give him an­other scape­goat for his fail­ure to build a wall, for which he promised Mex­ico would pay. Build­ing a wall to stem il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is not among the pres­i­den­tial emer­gency pow­ers.

In 1952’s Youngstown v. Sawyer, the Supreme Court up­held an in­junc­tion re­strain­ing en­force­ment of Pres­i­dent Harry S. Tru­man’s or­der seiz­ing steel mills and re­jected ar­gu­ments that Tru­man had “in­her­ent power” to is­sue such or­ders. The Na­tional Emer­gen­cies Act also re­quires pub­lic spec­i­fi­ca­tion of statu­tory sources of emer­gency pow­ers.

Only one statute seems su­per­fi­cially close to grant­ing such pow­ers: 33 U.S. Code Sec­tion 2293 au­tho­rizes the pres­i­dent, af­ter declar­ing a na­tional emer­gency, to re­di­rect Army civil works re­sources to projects “es­sen­tial to the na­tional de­fense.” A wall is not “es­sen­tial to the na­tional de­fense.” Na­tional se­cu­rity is not im­per­iled by un­armed asy­lum seek­ers or drug couri­ers, de­spite Mr. Trump’s use of the term “in­va­sion” to de­scribe drugs cross­ing the bor­der. Most drugs ar­rive through ports of en­try. Ge­orge Harper, Up­per Marl­boro

Pres­i­dent Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion of a na­tional emer­gency to build his bor­der wall was a first step to­ward tyranny. The Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires that funds spent by the gov­ern­ment for spe­cific pur­poses be ap­pro­pri­ated by Congress. Mr. Trump wants to take the money for his wall from fund­ing ap­pro­pri­ated for other pur­poses. If this isn’t the act of a tyrant, what is it? Brian Mc­Na­mara, Alexan­dria

It’s too bad Pres­i­dent Trump didn’t read Adrian Hig­gins’s Gar­den­ing col­umn in the Feb. 14 Lo­cal Liv­ing sec­tion [“The story be­hind one of his­tory’s most bizarre bar­ri­ers: A hedge”] be­fore declar­ing a na­tional emer­gency to fund his wall. The col­umn ex­plained how the Bri­tish built a 2,500-mile, 12-to-14-foot-high hedge through cen­tral In­dia to stop salt smug­gling. What a great idea. A hedge would be much less ex­pen­sive, more eco-friendly and cer­tainly more at­trac­tive.

Lisa Green, Ar­ling­ton

The Post’s Feb. 15 “Con­tempt of Congress” ed­i­to­rial made the ar­gu­ment that the need for a bor­der wall is down be­cause the num­ber of ar­rests at the bor­der is way down. This was a com­plete non se­quitur. The rel­e­vant data is the num­ber of peo­ple who sneak across the bor­der and into the United States without be­ing de­tected or ar­rested.

Fred­er­ick S. Holmes Jr., An­nan­dale

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