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Our View: President Trump’s new wall

Controversy concerning the U.S. Mexico border

By The Echo Editorial Board

Editors note: paired with this article is a column of facts that are useful in understanding the issue at hand. 

For several years now, the argument concerning the border of the US and Mexico has been a dominating presence in American debate. Oftentimes, Americans can formulate opinions based heavily on affiliation with a specific political party. But regardless of what a certain party may think, that doesn’t change the fact that there is a correct solution to this particular issue.

To give a brief background on the subject at hand, there are a few major components that must be understood. First, the issue of building a wall between America and Mexico is a heavily polarizing subject. Recently, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency concerning border security. Through this declaration, Trump hopes to complete the construction of the border wall (1).

The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics,” Trump said.  “The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch’s exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years.”

Donald Trump surveys his new wall

Jakob Miller, assistant professor of political science, expounded on the subject. According to Miller, a large variable in this debate is how Trump went about justifying this decision. Using Section 2808 of the National Emergencies Act (2), Trump categorized the construction of said wall under the label of “military construction” (3).

“If no military is involved with the effort, constructing a wall is not justifiable under Section 2808,” Miller said. “Trump’s reasoning must involve the military to some extent.”

Since April 2018, nearly 4,000 national guard troops have been stationed on the southern border. The National Guard is a reserve of the U.S. armed forces, officially making it a part of the U.S. military. Therefore, the National Guard being involved with a national emergency gives justifiable ground for Section 2808 to be activated.

Nicholas Kerton-Johnson, associate professor of political science and international relations, shared his personal view on the subject.

“To be clear, I am offering my perspective as a foreigner and as a scholar of International Relations,” Kerton-Johnson said. “Two of the definitions of a state are to have recognized and secure borders and a government that is able to control all means of force within these borders. Controlling access into, and out of, a country are acceptable state behavior: both legally and normatively.”

The security of the state should be a primary goal of the government. In that sense, being able to create that security should hardly even be a topic of debate.

It’s ridiculous to me that the president has resorted to building the wall as a state of emergency!” Kerton-Johnson said. “I would expect that a credibly secure border would allow for a more considered discussion of immigration, would facilitate moral practices in immigration in general and would allow the US to be more effective in processing asylum applications.”

One may think that the declaration of a state of emergency sets a bad precedent for future presidencies. A declaration of emergency is, of course, in response to an emergency.

“In my opinion, this course of action is not healthy for presidents to use regularly,” Miller said.

Abuse of executive power should never be justified. However, the use of emergency declarations is not foreign to recent U.S. Presidents (4). With this in mind, Trump’s statement of this recent emergency should perhaps not be seen as “abnormal” or “abusive,” but more so as a reflection of the pattern that has been set before him.


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