A warning right off the bat. It is a long and possibly arduous read. The post covers the border security problem, some of its history, and overall effect on America. Lots of stats and varying perspectives that are needed to put the whole story together. A decision of this magnitude requires it.
So, let’s begin…
I can think of no better way to start this conversation than to highlight an article recently published by National Public Radio (NPR), “Many Presidents Have Declared Emergencies — But Not Like Trump Has”
The author’s logic or argument against President Trump’s emergency declaration speaks volumes to a larger concern in our government. Specifically, its ideological bondage to decades-old misguided U.S. security and diplomatic policies. Policies that have got us into unnecessary conflicts, promoted questionable defense priorities and nurtured an environment of foreign interests first. It is these maligned directions that have contributed to both Congress and the media misidentifying the gravity of the President’s “National Emergency Declaration.“
An emergency declaration so serious, that it is one of the most important of our time…
American Security Interests and Policy
The United States for decades implemented a diplomatic and security policy that put foreign interests ahead of “securing the nation.” I realize that is is quite a bold statement and many within government would not only challenge it but be outright upset. However, I spent quite a few years inside the Pentagon working with numerous government offices on national security.
What I observed is that the security community is more concerned with foreign affairs than our own….almost an obsession. Even within the Department of Defense (DoD) who is responsible for enemy incursions, planners and budgeteers spent most of their time and money on overseas interventions, not on the physical security of the United States.
Is that a problem?
The short answer is yes! The real issue with this type of approach is that it subjugates us to foreign concerns and spawns a propensity for foreign conflict. To put it bluntly, we went from defending our soil from foreign invasion to invading other countries to protect it…sadly, the borders overseas were more important than our own.
How does this affect us?
This foreign security dilemma is driving how our government prioritizes the defense, protection, and safety of our nation. It took decades to develop and was predicated on fact that our threats were overseas, our western hemisphere was secure, and that we had two oceans to defend America. What resulted was the establishment of an enormous military force structure, apparatus, and supporting budget capable of projecting forces overseas. In other words, defend America on someone else’s property...and it’s expensive!
Is that bad? It sort of makes sense?
Not that I believe the military deserves less attention but their priorities need to be reevaluated and departments, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs Border Protection (CBP), whose responsibility it is to “secure the nation,” need an accelerated budget. To put this in perspective, the military budget is not only 15 times the size of DHS and CBP, the very departments responsible for making America safe, but most of it goes to organizing, training, and equipping our forces for battles somewhere else. What got left behind was the priority to secure our country or what I call, “the real defense of America.”
Has something changed? …Oh, yea!
President Trump is reshaping how we approach security. It is now “America First” and it is our new security doctrine. No longer are we slave to foreign powers or their dysfunctional internal conflicts. Bring back the troops, protect our interests at home, and relook where America fits into the global security picture. It’s about our safety, not someone else’s.
What does this have to do with a wall?
The old security philosophy is not just prevalent within the security community, it is also pervasive in Congress. And would argue throughout America. Because of repeated foreign interventions and the psychological conditioning of foreign threats, any discussion about America’s security begins overseas. In fact, we associate foreign conflicts with freedom…even our freedom at home…that’s the mantra and every politician is on board.
To be clear, I agree with foreign intervention if the enemy is a strategic threat to our survival or takes the fight to America. But, the negative side of this external preoccupation is that politicians forget about our home. They forget about our physical protection and safety.
They forget about our borders…
So much so that we get inundated with a misinformed media and worse, a misinformed Congress who are poorly identifying the border problem and promoting an unsecured nation. To them, we will do everything possible to ensure that no overseas threats meet us at our borders but they won’t secure them…a security oxymoron.
That’s why President Trump’s emergency declaration is one of the most important of our time…
What is a National Emergency?
IAW U.S. Code (USC) Title 50, 98h-3: Definitions, it [legislated law] defines a national emergency as “…a general declaration of emergency with respect to the national defense made by the President or by the Congress.” In addition, Duhaime’s Law Dictionary defines National Emergency as, “A situation beyond the ordinary which threatens the health or safety of citizens and which cannot be properly addressed using other law.”
Between them, USC Title 50 law is the most authoritative but I provided a similar interpretation to reinforce its validity. To put succinctly, it is a danger or threat to the security, safety, public health, or national defense of our nation. It is these common themes that are driving the rationale for President Trump to declare a national emergency on our southern border. And it is these very qualifiers that will prove that it is a crisis on our southern border.
Enactment of a National Emergency, Authorities, and Powers
The president enacts a national emergency through proclamation. The actual national emergency proclamation is titled, “Presidential Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Southern Border of the United States,” with further delineation under National Security & Defense. The powers that grant him this authority is under USC Title 50, Chapter34, Subchapter II, code 1621 which states, “With respect to Acts of Congress authorizing the exercise, during the period of a national emergency, of any special or extraordinary power, the President is authorized to declare such national emergency…”
By 1973, Congress enacted over 470 statutes granting the president special powers in times of crisis. At the time, the president could declare an emergency as he alone saw fit: no procedures or rules constrained his discretion. However, in 1976, as a response to the aftermath of the Vietnam War and recommendations of the Senate’s Special Committee on the Termination of the National Emergency, the National Emergencies Act was enacted.,
The National Emergency Act
In accordance with this Act, a president can no longer use hundreds of emergency provisions by mere proclamation. Instead, he must specifically declare a national emergency in accordance with the act and identify the statutory basis for each emergency power he intends to use.
Also, the Act requires that each house of Congress meet every six months to consider a vote to end the state of emergency. However, since the Act’s enactment, Congress has never met to consider such a vote…until now. The House of Representatives for the first time in history has approved a resolution to terminate President Trump’s emergency declaration…as of this writing, the resolution is in front of the Senate for review and vote.
Does the president have any recourse? Yes!
The Act originally allowed Congress to end an emergency by concurrent resolution (that is if majorities in both houses voted to end it). But a 1983 Supreme Court ruling declared this sort of legislative veto over presidential action unconstitutional.
To further bolster presidential authority, a 1985 amendment to the act now requires a joint resolution to end the emergency, meaning that any Congressional vote to end the emergency is subject to the president’s veto, which may be overridden only by two-thirds majorities of both houses. These supreme court rulings were significant is the sense that it reinstated presidential powers that had been diminished by the Act.
But there’s still more…and it’s important…
Not only does Congress normally not meet to consider invalidation votes, but presidents routinely renew the emergencies, which was much of the reason for the 1976 Act, sidestepping the automatic termination provision. As of today, 28 emergencies remain in effect.
As a matter of fact, the list still includes the first emergency authorized under the act—President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 emergency, declared ten days after Iranian students took American diplomats hostage in Tehran. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump renewed the emergency for the 38th time.
The critical point here is that national emergency declarations are common, they don’t go away, President Trump will veto any termination, and most likely extend this emergency declaration until the wall is built.
Last but not least, emergency powers…
Congress delegated at least 136 distinct statutory emergency powers to the President upon the declaration of an emergency. However, only 13 require a declaration from Congress; the remaining 123 are invoked by an executive declaration with no Congressional input. As described above, the president in accordance with section 301 of the National Emergencies Act, must list those congressional statutory authorizations. Without these congressional authorizations, the president has little to no authority.
Pay attention to what’s next, because it’s key to President Trump’s rationale!
The President’s Emergency Proclamation
The title of the proclamation is, “The Presidential Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Southern Border of the United States.” The very first paragraph of the proclamation is the most important. It states the problem. What we call in the military the “problem statement” or the rationale behind the issue that needs solving.
Here is the president’s problem statement, “The current situation at the southern border presents border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border…”
I’ve highlighted key portions to dissect…this too is important!
Dissecting the Problem
The president is defining the problem on the southern border as a security and humanitarian issue. He further describes the border as an entry point for criminals, gang members, illicit narcotics, and unlawful migration. The president also lays out who is going to help solve this problem, “the gravity of the current emergency, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis.” Another very important condition of the declaration.
In other words, it is a security crisis and the president must use the military to address it…
Now to address required congressional statutory authorizations. The president refers to “sections 201 and 301 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), “I hereby declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States and that section 12302 of title 10 [use of Ready Reserve], United States Code, is invoked and made available.” Further, the president describes the need and the direction for the use of the Armed Forces using “section 301 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1631), that the construction authority provided in section 2808 of title 10, United States Code.”
The Issue With the Use of Ready Reserve Forces
The mobilization of Ready Reserve forces (predominately National Guard) under Title 10 section 12302, can be problematic. Under this federal call-up, national guard forces are no longer under control of the State Governors and work at the discretion of the President.
Rarely has this occurred in mass within our sovereign borders. Normally, this type of mobilization of reserve forces is in response to an overseas conflict, not some type of civil security issue. This type of use for ready reserve forces could come with unexpected problems.
Here’s How it Could All Play Out
Technically, the Governor of any State must approve the use of federal forces in their state when operating outside a federal property. Some of the lands along the border are in State jurisdiction or private property. The issue will be those Governors or landowners who disagree with Trump’s national emergency declaration (political), the confiscation of private property (constitutional), and subsequent wall construction (legality).
A dissenter could deny access to the border for construction if it is not on federal property. In this situation, the president still has powers to force construction but would require him taking private or state property using the process of eminent domain.
Will President Trump Need Eminent Domain to Complete the Wall…?
Eminent domain is a sovereign power that allows the government to take state and private property for public use (5th amendment, the Condemnation Act of 1888, and Public Buildings Act of 1926). In most cases, eminent domain is traditionally used to facilitate transportation, supply water, construct public buildings, and aid in defense readiness. Eminent domain is not unusual. Highways, public parks, waterways, and aqueducts have been obtained under eminent domain since the 1800s.
As a matter of fact, it has already been applied along the southern border…
In 2006, under the Secure Fence Act, private property was seized to build a 650-mile fence along the southern border. Numerous state and private litigations occurred and some still pending but the fence was built. Initially accomplished by the Bush administration and passed in an overwhelming bi-partisan vote with Democrats such as Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Barrack Obama voting of it.
Another key political point is that in 2009 President Obama pushed Congress to complete the border fence. He also pushed for a virtual wall to fill in gaps along the remaining 1300 miles that uses sensors and other technology to secure the border (but, more on hi-tech effectiveness later)
Regardless of precedent, eminent domain is not to be taken lightly! Seizure of private property should be used only when all other alternatives have been exhausted and the use of this seizure is for the benefit of the society. This is why it is so important the president articulate the need.
Is President Trump “Manufacturing a Crises”?
Now that we have the president’s rationale and some of the challenges he may face, let’s look at the severity. How severe is it? Or is it, as so many media outlets and congressional members are claiming, merely “an end around Congress” or as Congresswomen Pelosi states “the president’s emergency declaration undermines the constitutional separation of powers and Congress’s power of the purse”…”To many, the President is ‘manufacturing a crisis.'”
Is Border Security Working?
To ensure we address one of the main points of this blog, which is “why does this declaration make it one of the most important in our times,” it is best to address it in terms of security breaches since the president considers the southern border situation a “border security threat to the U.S.” What I’m getting at is how often or to what degree has our southern border been breached? To put it differently, how many times has the U.S. been unguarded against crime, unprotected against an alien invasion, or subject to an attack on our sovereignty (read my border security post). By looking at it this way, we can better see the burden of the problem and why the President must address it…because it is a severe security risk.
The Security Breach Along Our Southern Border
Last year, FY18, Customs Border Protection (CBP measures in fiscal year (FY) from 1 Oct to 30 Sep), there were a total of 396,579 apprehensions along the southern border (Apprehensions refers to the physical control or temporary detainment of a person who is not lawfully in the U.S. which may or may not result in an arrest). In addition, there were 124,711 inadmissible (Inadmissible refers to individuals encountered at ports of entry who are seeking lawful admission into the United States but are determined to be inadmissible).
Not to mention, from FY17 to FY18, there was an increase in apprehensions of 30%. More concerning is that in the first four months of FY19, there were 201,497 apprehensions, an increase of 84% over the first four months of FY18. The number of apprehensions is not going down but sharply increasing.
Here’s an interesting observation…
The hardest hit border section is the Rio Grande covering 320 miles of river and 250 of the coastal area. It apprehends nearly 10 times the number of illegal aliens as some other sectors along the border and doubles the closest sector, Tucson. Further, if we look at the Rio Grande sector you will see that most of its border is State or privately owned. Eminent domain may be in order?
But, my real point here is that the Rio Grande sector is the largest area along the southern border without any barrier or fence…sounds like they need a wall?
More to Apprehensions and Inadmissible’s
Apprehensions and inadmissible’s are only those people who get caught. The Department of Homeland Security claims that about 20% of illegal border crossers make it into the country (not showing up on any statistics). Other studies show border agents fail to apprehend as much as 50% of illegal crossers. Even at conservative DHS numbers, that means 104,000 illegals made it into the country in 2018 alone, undetected and unaccounted for…the number of illegal aliens crossing our borders is substantial.
Sounds like this is the greatest security breach in our countries history…
Does it Take a Wall?
Other than being pompous, ask your neighbor why they built a wall between you and them or ask a gated community why they’re gated, or better yet, ask our rich ex-presidents or congressional members how many live behind walls? As President Trump stated in his address to the nation, “…they [wealthy politicians] don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside but because they love the people on the inside.”
Walls have been used since the beginning of time to protect people’s property and its sovereignty. Are they completely effective? No, but they are far more useful than not having them and will argue more effective than the newest of surveillance and hi-tech sensors (a virtual wall) …more on that later.
There Are Already Walls on Our Border and They Work
The security of a wall was first demonstrated in the 1990s on the U.S.-Mexico border when the first sections of fencing were built in El Paso and near San Diego. In the weeks that followed, crossings in those sectors dropped to almost zero. As the CBP chief patrol agent for the San Diego sector says, “where they have two layers of fence, he gets 90 percent operational control of the border.”
Walls in Other Countries
Similarly, in other areas of the world, since the construction of Hungary’s border fence in 2015, crossings have dropped substantially. In Israel along the Egyptian border, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs report notes that the number of people illegally crossing their border was more than 16,000 in 2011 prior to a wall, and less than 20 after the wall was built, a 99 percent decrease.
Here’s some hypocrisy…
Congress has funded walls in several countries. For example, in Tunisia, Israel, and Turkey the U.S. helped fund their border walls…together, over a billion dollars worth! Other examples of border walls include Algeria, Morocco, Northern Ireland, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kenya, and more. Not only does this provide examples of the common use of border walls, but also does it not play into my point about our disposition for valuing foreign interests above ours?
A wall works, but what about the argument for hi-tech?
Does Hi-Tech Work?
Another common Democrat argument for not building a wall is using a more non-obtrusive solution involving hi-tech surveillance, sensors, and additional manpower. Here’s a look at hi-tech and manpower. During 2011-2013, I worked for Northern Command and was responsible for integrating federal military assistance (mostly intelligence) with other federal and state and/or local agencies along the southwest border. A large part of that intel fusion required hi-tech security items like drones, infrared devices, movement and electro-optical sensors, air or maritime assets, and noise monitoring equipment.
All of it requires a large support tail. Not just equipment but also what we call in the military a “kill chain.” Or, with respect to illegal crossings, a “search, identify and capture” process. A sensor (search) is manned and it sends search results (identity) to vehicles or manned equipment who then must again verify identity and then apprehend suspected illegal crossers. And here’s the kicker, we have to organize it, train to it, and equip it.
The problem with this practice is best surmised by an old saying we used in the military for an extremely difficult process, “it takes seven unrelated miracles to make it work.”
A wall literally has none of these issues…
Finally, one more dissenting wall argument is that a wall is ineffective because they will find another way to cross the border. Well then, hallelujah! Meaning, previous CBP hi-tech and manpower used to secure un-walled areas can now be redirected to points of entry where, they also argue, most of the illicit trade occurs.
A wall works…just ask anyone in Israel, Hungary or Customs Border and Protection…
Another Important Point…Polls
Numerous media outlets and other wall opponents justify much of their argument with poll results, claiming that America overwhelmingly does not support the President’s wall. Here’s an Interesting observation of polls. Pew research conducted a border wall poll showing 58% of Americans oppose a wall while 40% approve it.
The poll was conducted using a random phone interview with 1505 respondents. One of the issues with the accuracy of the poll is they asked 76 more Democrats than Republicans…Uhmmm? According to another poll by PEW, 93% of Democrats oppose the wall…is this their version of random sampling? Also, they asked a higher percentage using prepaid phones.
Prepaid phones account for over 30% of all cell phone use and the majority of the users earn under $30,000/yr. The interesting point here is that 24%-26% of minorities earn under $30,000/yr., while 70%-90% of them vote democrat…another Uhmmm? Additionally, over 50% of pre-paid phone users have a high school education or less. You guessed it, only 22%-33% of minorities have an education beyond high school...you do the math.
To further add salt into this polling wound, the PEW poll asked for the youngest male or female in the household over 18 to respond. The largest demographic who opposes the wall are ages 20-34, which were over 50%. And to put the icing on this cake, Pew Research is funded by PEW Trust which is a left-wing organization and run by a left-wing liberal president. Are we asking questions to support a narrative?
Bottom line with polls…
If poll data is used to influence decisions (or determine popular opinion) and it comes from Pew, it is suspect!! As a responsible citizen, you must first look at the methodology before you trust any poll…did we not learn from the last presidential election the bias and inaccuracies of polls? Be careful of polls looking for an outcome rather than a legitimate public referendum.
Here’s What We Have so Far…
- Misaligned security policies putting foreign interests ahead of American interests
- Highlighted disproportionate security funding for DHS and CBP
- Explained the emergency declaration (proclamation) process
- Specified the powers granted to the President by Congress and the Supreme Court
- Outlined President Trump’s emergency proclamation
- Debunked the claim that the president is “manufacturing a crisis”
- Illustrated the severity of the security problem on the border
- Discredited arguments opposing the wall
Now its time to describe the effect of a porous border on our nation…
The Dangerous Effect on America
Safety on the Border…Is It a Humanitarian Crisis?
The border is turning into a humanitarian crisis with human trafficking, unaccompanied minors, sexual assaults, poor living conditions, and crimes against migrants. According to Customs Border Protection, in 2016 there were 12, 842 convicted criminals arrested crossing our border. U.S. border patrol agents rescued 3,221 illegal migrants in danger and, in some cases, life-threatening situations. Migrants often put themselves in threatening positions by letting dangerous coyotes (smugglers) help them in the migration process.
In addition, extortion often occurs with officials, such as police and agents from Instituto Nacional de Migración (National Institute of Migration) In one study, 43% of detained migrant women interviewed were victims of extortion in Mexico, and of the migrants from Central America, the majority had experienced extortion. Criminal groups in Mexico kidnap more than 20,000 migrants each year.
Sexual assaults are also rampant among migrants, specifically women. According to Amnesty International, 60% of migrant women and girls are raped while migrating, while other data indicate that 80% of women experience rape and sexual assault during the migration process. So prolific, many migrant women take contraceptives before migrating to avoid the risk of pregnancy from rape by armed criminal groups, locals, or their smugglers.
As a side note, and important to point out, during my research into these abuse allegations of migrants, I noticed that no matter how I worded my google search it came back with several pages of mainstream media bias trying to debunk President Trumps’ declaration rationale and numbers.
The problem here is that by arguing on a few petty differences in numbers, they completely miss (or dilute) the essence of the problem, which is that there are thousands of migrants unnecessarily being exposed to criminal actions. So absurd (and irresponsible) is this media bias that WOLA, an advocacy group for human rights in the Americas, wrote an article condemning the president’s assault numbers on migrants.
What’s really immoral here is not the wall but the type of inaccurate and outright perverted bias.
Safety Inside Our Border…Is There Another Humanitarian Crisis?
According to a 2018 Department of Justice (DOJ) Alien Incarceration Report, a total of 57,820 known or suspected aliens were in DOJ custody, including 38,132 persons in Bureau of Prisons (BOP) custody and 19,688 in United States Marshals Service (USMS) custody. Of this total 39,413 people had been confirmed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be illegal aliens, while 15,536 aliens were still under investigation by ICE.
These numbers include a 62% unlawful rate among 38,132 known or suspected aliens in BOP custody and a 78% unlawful rate among 19,688 confirmed aliens in USMS custody.
In addition, and more alarming, the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows that of those convicted of federal crimes (that’s all federal convictions in the U.S.) between 2011 and 2016, 44.2% were not U.S. citizens. What’s worse is non-citizens share of criminal convictions among our adult population:
- 42.4% of kidnapping convictions (human trafficking)
- 31.5 percent of drug convictions
- 22.9 percent of money laundering convictions
- 12.8 percent of auto thefts
- 9.6 percent of assaults
- 8.9 percent of homicides
- 7.5 percent of firearm crimes
- 4.5 percent of arsons
- 4.1 percent of sex crimes
- and 3.3 percent of robberies
And here’s the kicker? Non-citizens represent only 8.4 % of the adult population!! Is America creating its own humanitarian crisis?
According to DHS estimates, there are over 12M illegal aliens inside the U.S. They account for almost 40% of the total immigrant population. DHS estimates also show that 63% of households headed by a non-citizen reported that they used at least one welfare program (40% on food assistance and 50% on Medicaid).
Out of only 3 million estimated illegal alien households that report welfare use, they have a net drain (or cost from the difference between taxes paid and social benefits received) of over $54B/yr. With respect to education, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, 75% of Illegal immigrants have less than or an equivalent of high school education. Of this group, 59% are on welfare and 70% have little or no tax liability, meaning they are a net fiscal drain on society.
One of the problems a porous border brings to our nation is the immeasurable loss from illicit narcotics crossing it. The public health effect from illicit drugs will eventually become a security issue, as its insatiable demand brings with it the associated crime, violence and overall general safety concerns in our society. Here are just a few stats: 99.9% of marijuana, 99.8% of Meth, 90% of heroin, and 40% of cocaine come across our southern border. In addition, the number of drug-related deaths has skyrocketed in 2018 to over 63,000, up 370% since 2000…approximately 174 people die every day from drug poisoning, outnumbering deaths by suicide and homicide.
Already in January, federal law enforcement agents stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz., made the largest-ever seizure of fentanyl (a dangerous opioid 50-100 times more powerful than heroin), capturing over 250 lbs of this dangerous substance. It was enough to kill 115,000,000 Americans!
Further, drug abuse costs taxpayers around $181 billion a year in drug-related health care costs, increased law enforcement costs, and lost workplace productivity. Since 2000 that adds up to over $2 trillion.
At some point or another, we must accept the fact that we have let this crisis develop right in front of our eyes, ignoring the gravity of its effect on our security, safety and public health.
The humanitarian crisis is not in Mexico, it is in our backyard…time for America first!!
The United States for decades has implemented a questionable diplomatic and security policy which puts our foreign interests ahead of the security of the United States. In a way, it is foreign interests first, American security second.
I personally witnessed this disordered approach inside the Pentagon. They deranged budget development and subsequently built an addiction to foreign interests and intervention. The security of our borders was innocently disregarded in a belief that defending America was best served overseas. The result was a ballooned defense budget, poorly budgeted homeland security department, and a porous border….we decided to pay more attention to borders overseas than to our own.
What got left behind was “the real defense of America…”
This is missed by Democrats and mainstream media. Condemning this president for trying to effectively secure our borders misses the point of protecting America. It is a fundamental misunderstanding of the burden on our southern border and its porous impact on our security and social fabric. America does not need to worry about foreign borders as much as it needs to anguish over its own.
Any other approach is an affront on our national security and our sovereignty…
If we are to survive as a republic, we must adhere to our laws, to our constitution, and to the principled purpose of our borders…their disregard will be our demise. A wall is not just a physical barrier to protect the people inside but it is also a metaphysical barrier to protect our sovereign rights. Without it, our society will implode. This is why the President’s emergency declaration is one of the most important of our time.
And the time is now…build the wall…America first!