Sunday, January 27, 2019

What is a National Emergency?

Blogging a question, not an answer

When should a president declare an emergency?
I generally avoid blogging on political matters and will continue to avoid them here in the future. The closest I usually come in RapidGroove is sharing thoughts on making elections work well for our citizens. But with a long federal shutdown just ended in the last few days, and the threat of another shutdown just a few weeks away, talk of the use of a presidential declaration of a national emergency has resurfaced.

Count me among the many people who had no idea until very recently that there are many National Emergencies currently in effect. ABC News reports 31 of them. These emergencies have been declared by presidents going back to Jimmy Carter, and include emergencies declared by President Trump.

My question at the moment is whether there is a situation on the US border with Mexico that rises to the level of a national emergency. If we start with an agreement that we don't want illegal drug trafficking and human trafficking and we want people to enter the US through legal processes, is the declaration of an emergency to build a border wall the response to the current problems that experts recommend, or are there other measures that would address the most pressing needs identified by the experts? If a physical barrier (wall, fence, etc.) is a part of the solution, how much and exactly where? And what are the other parts of the solutions?

Backing up a little farther, is the situation on the southern border more of an emergency than other things at the moment? Is it more of an emergency than deaths due to gun violence, or opioid abuse? Is it more of an emergency than the terrifying effects of climate chaos brought on by greenhouse gasses?

Is a shutdown ever helpful?
I'm not looking for a fight on any of these issues. I'm asking a basic set of questions and hoping for a discussion. What constitute an emergency, is there an emergency on the south border and if so what does it involve, does a wall somehow address that emergency better and more cost effectively than other approaches? Are there other emergencies that surpass this one in importance, and if so why are we not talking about those emergencies when we talk about continued funding of the government?

Should the President seriously consider the use of a Presidentially-declared National Emergency to fund a border wall in the coming weeks? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.


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