On the afternoon of Feb. 14, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on the floor of the Senate that President Donald Trump plans to sign the bipartisan bill that will keep the federal government open and simultaneously declare a “national emergency” giving him the power to begin border wall construction using funds that had already been allocated for other purposes. McConnell indicated that he would support the forthcoming declaration of emergency. At this point, it’s unclear whether Democrats or other Republican politicians will do anything to stop this power grab by the executive branch.
“One thing is clear: There is no national emergency regarding immigration across our southern border,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark. “Trump may have a political emergency as he tries to keep his anti-immigration base happy, but research consistently shows that increased immigration expands our economy and that migrants commit fewer crimes than native Americans. We benefit from letting outsiders in, not by spending exorbitant sums of money and trampling on individual liberties in order to keep them out.”
Trump has repeatedly promised not only to build an $18 billion wall along the southern border of the United States, but that he would also get Mexico to pay for its construction. There is no funding on its way from south of the border, and a congressional compromise would authorize only 55 miles of border fencing funded by $1.4 billion of hard-earned American tax dollars. It’s easy to see why Trump would make this power grab as a desperate ploy to satisfy his base. This plan would, of course, be contested in the courts, but it doesn’t have to go that far.
“Congress has control over federal spending and the power to override reckless abuses of executive authority,” Sarwark said. “The Libertarian Party urges Congress to stop this unconstitutional presidential ploy.”
Libertarian Party leadership stands together in opposing this extreme and unprecedented power grab. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote in his dissent to Korematsu v. United States, emergency power “lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring plausible claim of an urgent need.”
The Libertarian Party is committed to supporting the efforts of individuals and groups who take the initiative to fight this dangerous reach for power. The U.S. Constitution separates powers between the three branches of the federal government precisely to avoid any one of them becoming too powerful in comparison to the others. Leaders of the Libertarian Party will continue to speak out against concentrations of political power and work tirelessly to recruit and elect candidates who always hold to the principles of individual liberty.
“The Libertarian Party is unwavering in the cause of personal freedom,” Sarwark said. “Unilateral executive actions take liberty even further away from the individual and dilute the all-important checks and balances. While Republicans and Democrats fight over misplaced power and play fast and loose with your hard-earned money, the Libertarian Party sees the stories of furloughed workers and ambitious migrants as the failures of a government that is far too big and that does far more harm with its power than good. It is time to fix the problems of insolvency, and that is not achieved by giving more power to the executive branch.”
From Trump to Barack Obama to George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and every prior president, the Libertarian Party has consistently opposed presidential power grabs and every form of federal overreach since its founding in 1971. Democrats and Republicans are united in fighting for government that does more, spends more, and restricts the people more. Only Libertarians are ready to scale back the size, scope, power, and purview of government at every level.