What on earth is going on?
Donald Trump has declared a state of national emergency at the US-Mexico border. The highly controversial move means he can now bypass Congress to access an estimated $8bn (£6.2bn) to fund the controversial project.
Why is he doing it?
Building the wall was one of Trump’s key promises during the presidential campaign but Democrats had refused to back his plans in Congress. This led to a complete Government shutdown lasting more than a month at the turn of the year. Trump has said the wall is necessary to tackle the “humanitarian and security crisis” on the border with Mexico. Today he cited ‘an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs’ coming through the southern border.
Is there an emergency at the border?
It is impossible to know for certain how many people are entering the US illegally from Mexico. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested 396,579 people on the south-western border in 2018, and 303,916 in 2017. In 2000, more than 1.5 million people were arrested trying to cross the border illegally. The number has declined steadily since then. It is believed that by far the largest number of illegal immigrants in the US are people who stay in the country after their visas have expired.
Critics say these numbers do not constitute a national emergency. Senior Democrats have called the move a ‘gross abuse of power’ and pledged to challenge the action as unconstitutional.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement, saying: “The President’s unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe, stealing from urgently needed defence funds for the security of our military and our nation.” (Yahoo News US)
Read more about this story
Declaring a national emergency over the wall? This won’t end well for Trump (The Guardian)
Donald Trump has declared a state of national emergency – but what does it mean? (HuffPost)
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