Morgan Griffith: Border wall emergency
President Trump recently declared a national emergency on the southern border. This step will allow him to use funds for building physical barriers. He is right to use this authority granted by Congress in the 1976 National Emergencies Act in this way.
A country has the fundamental right to be able to secure its own borders. In the case of the border with Mexico, failure to secure it has tragic consequences. Lives are destroyed by the drugs that are smuggled across the border and the human trafficking that occurs. These facts should indicate a national emergency under any reasonable definition of the phrase.
The declaration seems even more appropriate when surveying the subjects of the 31 national emergency declarations already in effect, as well as previous emergency declarations that are no longer active. Some of the emergency declarations have been active for decades and repeatedly renewed; a declaration issued by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 remains in force today.
Many of them relate to international affairs, targeting people and behaviors in other countries. An example is Executive Order 13348, issued in 2004 by President George W. Bush, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting the Importation of Certain Goods from Liberia.”
This declaration was issued as Liberia transitioned to a democracy after years of civil war. One of its objectives was to end illicit trade in round logs and timber products, which in turn fueled the arms trade threatening that country’s stability. So President Bush banned the importation of round logs and timber products from Liberia using his emergency powers.
Declaring an emergency about the importation of logs from Liberia did not cause a wailing and gnashing of teeth from people professing concern about executive overreach.
Surely the importation of deadly drugs and human trafficking into our country pose a graver threat.
Lack of control over the southern border jeopardizes the safety and well-being of many Americans. We feel some of these effects in the Ninth District, where Mexican cartels smuggle methamphetamine into our area and likely fentanyl as well. President Trump is responding to an emergency that directly impacts the country.
Whether Congress should have delegated expansive national emergency power to the executive branch is a fair question. I would support limitations on that power. If Speaker Pelosi wants to put forward a bill to limit these powers at the disposal of any president, Democrat or Republican, I am open to it.
But under current law, President Trump is certainly acting within the authority delegated to him and under circumstances that justify a national emergency.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.