The security of our borders has become such an inflamed political issue that a reasonable resolution through compromise seems out of the question. Yet security is so essential to our nation’s integrity that it should engender the best — not the worst — of political instincts to come up with a solution.
Stymied by the refusal of Democrats to fund the southern border wall promised in his election campaign, President Donald Trump resorted to declaring a national emergency as a way to pay for the barrier. He planned to use $3.6 billion in military construction funds, $2.5 billion from counter-narcotics programs and $601 million from a Treasury Department forfeiture fund. Combining those funds with the paltry $1.37 billion in the appropriations bill would give Trump $8 billion for the wall — still far less than the $25 billion he originally wanted.
Just as night follows day, lawsuits quickly targeted Trump’s emergency declaration. Sixteen states, all but one — Maryland — with a Democrat as governor filed a lawsuit seeking to block Trump’s use of emergency powers as unconstitutional. Naturally, the challenge was filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, just as Trump predicted. Likewise, the ACLU, once known as a civil rights organization, filed a similar action in the same federal court district — with good reason. The left-leaning judges have ruled against a lengthening list of Trump administration policies, notably on immigration and the environment.
Trump had said he expected more of the same kind of decisions from the California court. “We will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court,” he said, while expressing confidence that the Supreme Court would ultimately uphold his action. If the lower courts do indeed block him, the high court should rule quickly to minimize the uncertainty. Yet a favorable ruling for Trump does not by any means preclude new lawsuits on other issues involved in the fierce, relentless campaign by Democrats to stop virtually any Trump initiative as an obvious effort to undermine his re-election campaign.
To help keep the partisan pot boiling, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged fellow Democrats to support a resolution by Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, to squash Trump’s emergency declaration. Echoing the refrain of the lawsuits, Pelosi asserted: “The president’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated.”
Within his own party, the president evoked opposition from some members of Congress. Among them were several House members concerned about Trump’s decision to use funds for military construction including money for much-needed housing. Some senators voiced doubt or opposition to Trump’s decision as unconstitutional. No doubt, the Supreme Court will give its majority opinion on the constitutional question, but there’s also little doubt that will not settle the matter for either side.
When it comes to immigration reform, the principles laid out by Georgia senior Sen. Johnny Isakson could well be used in formulating a good program. His position: “First and foremost, it is imperative that we secure our borders. I support a border security plan to combat illegal immigration, drug and alien smuggling and violent activity on the southwest border. As we have seen in places such as Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona, Mexican drug cartel violence has only escalated and threatens communities not just in the Southwest but also in Georgia. We must respond accordingly to ensure the safety of all American citizens.” Isakson says he does not support a special pathway to illegal immigrants, adding: “I believe that all immigrants should pursue citizenship by getting in line and complying with the same rules that are already in place. I have always drawn a clear distinction between legal and illegal immigration, and anyone who comes to our country legally should be welcomed to share in the pursuit of the American dream. At the same time, the defense of our nation begins with securing our borders and ending the opportunity for illegal entry. Our immigration laws must be followed, and they must be enforced.”
Isakson’s colleague, Sen. David Perdue, after a recent visit to the southern border, put his finger on the crux of the problem in efforts to reform the immigration system. He blamed “the dysfunction in Washington’s broken funding process.” Amen.
It’s too bad that Isakson’s common sense approach is not adopted. It could get the job done if only there were enough like-minded members of Congress. The question hanging over all the bitter partisan fighting is this: Will our immigration system ever be reformed?