Protests sparked by Trump Order on National Emergency
President’s Day is a peaceful day for family gatherings and commemorating our past U.S. Presidents. However this year there are over 230 President’s Day protests planned to fight President Trump’s Declaration of a National Emergency to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The National Emergencies Act is a codified federal law which provides the President emergency powers once such an emergency is declared. The law allows the President to call upon 136 different types of emergency powers, 123 of which need only to be invoked by Executive Order. While as of February 2019, 59 national emergencies have been declared, with 31 of them being current, most of them are categorized as “sanctions.” For instance, renewable sanctions are enacted against persons, entities, or foreign governments viewed as threats.
What differs with Trump’s Emergency Powers invocation is its expressly “military” category. The last time “military” grade National Emergency Action was invoked was just after the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, when President Bush called for troops to be placed on stand-by.
While Trump’s February 15th National Emergency Proclamation ostensibly concerns illegal immigration into the United States from along the U.S.-Mexico southern border, what makes many citizens and activists concerned and even angry is that the military is not merely being authorized to secure against “large-scale unlawful migration”; they are being encouraged to launch illegal arrests, detention, and removal from within the States.
Activists believe that the President’s order for supportive authority from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior, and the Department of Defense to root out and arrest any suspected aliens is an abuse of power. Patriots believe this constitutes a breach of posse comitatus, the principle that the military should not act as a domestic police force. They question whether this serves the dictator a pretext to clamp down hard on the left while solidifying the Trump 2020 fascist-worshipping base.
The implication of a broad assignation of power to the military is ascribed within the text of the February 15th Proclamation itself:
“If not detained, such aliens are often released into the country and are often difficult to remove from the United States because they fail to appear for hearings, do not comply with orders for removal, or are otherwise difficult to locate…Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis.”
It is clearly not about construction of just a border wall, when all military departments are being called for use, including the Army, Navy, and Air Force, including all Ready Reserve, such as the National Guard, and all those serving in militarized police forces.
In fact the February 15th Proclamation states explicitly in Section 2:
“The Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and, subject to the discretion of the Secretary of Defense, the Secretaries of the military departments, shall take all appropriate actions, consistent with applicable law, to use or support the use of the authorities herein invoked, including, if necessary, the transfer and acceptance of jurisdiction over border lands.”
With a bloated military budget in excess of $854 billion dollars, a lot of lethal damage is available potentially to be unleashed against America’s own citizens, civilians, rural property owners, and its “borderlands.” Bullying, harassment, extortion, and other illegal activities are enabled when vigilante border patrols wield unlimited rifle power.
Protesters are correctly presuming that violence is intended, and not merely what has become recognized by groups like Black Lives Matters as a trend of intensified white-on-black racial profiling and killings. That evidence is contained in the preceding February 7th Proclamation which contravenes the injunction put in place by the State of California protecting asylum seekers. Trump’s hostility to poor people immigration is well-known. During Trump’s first month in office three Executive Orders were signed: “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements”; “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”; and “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
According to the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), such executive orders “offend the dignity and threaten the rights of immigrants and refugees both in the United States and globally.” The “Border Security” order undermines human rights and expands the use of detention. “Enhancing Public Safety” violates the protections afforded in sanctuary cities by allowing state and local law enforcement to act as ICE agents. Federal grants to sanctuary cities are reduced to only those necessary for enforcement purposes. “Protecting the Nation” immediately suspended issuance of visas to nationals from Muslim countries and halted resettlement for Syrian refugees.
Not only do such orders contradict the United States tradition as that of a nation of immigrants who welcome the poor, but they lessen our potential for forming positive global alliances and ties with nations around the world. With regard to the border wall, CMS believes we are not striking at the heart of the problem when there is a crisis caused by violence and organized crime within the Northern Triangle of Central America, from which people are fleeing, according to a statement:
“Instead of appropriating nearly $5.7 billion for an ineffective and damaging wall, Congress and President Trump should use some portion of this funding to address the push factors causing flight from the region. Addressing the root causes of flight is the most humane and effective solution to outward migration.”
Instead the American solution is now to enforce mandatory detention, family separation, and denial of entry with a zero-tolerance attitude. In fact, AGN, based in Washington, D.C. is witness to a recent spike in visibility of local police wearing “anti-terrorism unit” vests and detaining unarmed African-American males. On President’s Day, two plain clothes officers suddenly demanded the bus driver to pull over and pulled off two passengers of color in what appeared to be an arbitrary detention and questioning. On the same day (President’s Day) that Black Lives Matter-DC held a demonstration in Chinatown, AGN noticed at least two additional stop-and-frisk incidents occurring along Georgia Avenue.
It is no coincidence that on the planned day of President’s Day protests against the National Emergency that the Department of Homeland Security increased its visibility and presence whether at events or along event routes. Using helicopters for night circling neighborhoods is another way to signal to residents that they are being surveilled. Because police are more often trained to identify suspects based on labels, policing of civilians whether by the Department of the Army, Homeland Security, Metro, special police forces, and F.B.I. units are especially divisive along colorlines.
According to Black Lives Matter-DC, $500 million in policing and prisons neither reduced crime nor increased safety. They cite:
“In 2018, 83% of all Stop-and-Frisks were of Black residents. In 2018, there was a 39% increase in homicides…” The facts indicate police militarization increased the school-to-prison pipeline for black girls, and increased homelessness and poverty among African-Americans.
Across the U.S., police also murdered an estimated 998 people in 2018. Research on the matter by experts bears out that the victims are generally black, brown, disabled, homeless, or some combination of the above. There are cases of point blank shootings by police with limited administrative repercussions. Facts indicate that arming and militarizing the police tends to aggravate racial tensions through criminalization of the poor. They also instill a false sense of entitlement among “protected classes,” that if nothing else, they are free to harass communities of color. (Ignored in the estimate are the number of missing persons.)
Progressive groups such as MoveOn, United We Dream, Indivisible, and CREDO Action, and democratic legislators are vowing to fight this new onslaught against freedom and democracy whether on the street or in court. According to CREDO co-director Heidi Hess, Trump’s February 15th Proclamation of a National Emergency is “an unconstitutional power grab that threatens our democracy and escalates Trump’s attacks on immigrants, communities of color, Muslims and Black and Brown people.”
By operating on colorlines, the Emergency is fodder for more racial strife, by goading whites to follow Trump’s lead and to take advantage of privileges meant for everyone: Red, Yellow, Green, or Purple. The stepped up racial profiling of homeless people and detaining people of color in Chinatown, Washington, D.C. is steps away from becoming the nightmare of Latino storeowners in Columbia Heights where visits by police give way to bribery and extortion.
Too often established mainstream NGOs ignore how Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) (who cover shades of light to dark complexion) have endured an increasing amount of police terrorization, deportation, and incarceration since 2017. According to Asian Americans Advancing Justice in a National Week of Action statement, especially hard-hit have been Southeast Asian American communities (Vietnamese, Hmong, Cambodian, and Laotian). Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus opposes the President’s Emergency Proclamation. A press release states:
“President Trump’s shameful declaration is a clear cut abuse of presidential power and a threat to our democracy. The President manufactured a crisis at the border to drum up support for his failed and unpopular campaign promise.”
In fact, President Trump’s tenure is rife with distractions and conflicts including the most unstable administration in the history of the United States, scores of unresolved lawsuits, including ones involving ongoing conflicts of interests, and what appears to be expensive weekend junkets paid for by tax-payers for his various resorts. As a billionaire President, why has he not forgone the indignity of a salary when he eschews the definition of public servant? And why is his base of supporters so willfully ignorant, adulating, and dogmatic?
According to the Stop Police Terror Project DC, freedom and safety for all people begin when we abolish the police and prisons, ban stop-and-frisk, end gang databases, and end counter-terrorism exchanges with Israeli military and police. By disarming ourselves, we can save billions of dollars nationwide and create a pathway to a safer, healthier future for ourselves and the planet.
The construction of a border wall is yet one more ruse that President Trump may add to his files of 3500 legal actions and lawsuits. More importantly he is frittering away the nation’s public time, money, and energy by dragging us into the behemoth of a confused dialectic involving private corporate governance (perhaps comparable to the Saudi royal family). By engaging us in neighborly hate invectives and endless diatribes rather than 21st century cooperative community building, Trump is successfully distracting us from the dangerous debt crisis we have built far from home.