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Opinion

Opinion: Trump gets sued over his asylum policy. Again. Next up: His fake national emergency

President Trump signs budget bill, declares national emergency, Washington, USA - 15 Feb 2019
President Trump makes up a national emergency to circumvent Congress. He needs to be called on it, from the halls of Congress to the courts.
(Erik S. Lesser / EPA/Shutterstock)

Injunction, here we come?

Immigrant rights groups sued the Trump administration Thursday over its brazen decision to force asylum-seekers from Central American to wait on the Mexico side of the border as their cases proceed. The policy is a blatant attempt to make it even harder for the desperate to exercise their legal rights to ask for protection from persecution in their home countries, and there doesn’t seem to be language in immigration law (unless you follow the government’s convoluted reading) that allows the government to make applicants wait in another country.

But Trump is doing it anyway.

That governance style comes from the same mindset that led to Trump’s declaration Friday morning that there’s a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border (there isn’t), so he can flout the intent of Congress — which controls the nation’s purse strings — and spend tax dollars to build a border wall that no one but Trump and his nativist supporters want.

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Trump’s making this up.

Yes, Congress gave the president the power to declare a national emergency to allow for fast responses to immediate crises. That the president has that power is not in serious dispute. What is in dispute is that what’s happening on the U.S.-Mexico border is an imminent threat to our national security.

This is not “an invasion,” as the president argued from the Rose Garden. Trump’s making this up, and as I’ve argued before, he’s admitted as much in his own statements. He has said that if he couldn’t get a deal with Congress for border wall funding, he’d declare the emergency. Just hours before Trump’s Rose Garden remarks, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters, speaking about Congress, that “they are simply incapable of providing the money.”

That’s not grounds for declaring a national emergency. Cue the lawyers.

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In one regard, Trump’s approach to governance displays the inherent problem with thinking a business executive can somehow handle the vast intricacies of being president. Those roles take different skill sets. Especially when, in the case of Trump, your business is effectively a one-man operation. At least CEOs of publicly traded companies have to deal with the politics of corporate boardrooms.

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The president may have been the Emperor of Trumplandia, where minions race to play out his every whim, but the presidency doesn’t work like that. It takes flexibility, tact, an ability to perceive and act with nuance. You know, political instincts.

Without those personal and governance skills, Trump is facing crisis after crisis of his own making. He ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on the argument that President Obama lacked the executive authority to create relief for the so-called Dreamers, but now tries to claim that authority for himself. His Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department have moved to roll back scores of regulations just because they — or special interests — don’t like them, only to find their ginned-up reasoning caught up in the courts.

In fact, the Center for Biological Diversity alone has filed or joined 106 legal challenges to Trump administration actions. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed more than 100 briefs and 45 lawsuits against the administration.

After this sham national emergency declaration, expect more.


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