Opinion

STEIN: Trump Declares A National Emergency — After He Signs Legislation Creating It

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Dan Stein Federation for American Immigration Reform

Throughout the government funding battle, Democrats have been insisting there is no border crisis. To those who share their skepticism: Just wait. There will be one very soon, thanks to the funding bill President Trump just signed. In exchange for $1.375 billion for construction of fencing in very limited areas of the border, the president signed a bill that created a whopping new incentive for unaccompanied minors to crash the border.

Section 224(a) of the bill reads: “None of the funds provided by this Act or any other Act … may be used by the Secretary of Homeland Security to place in detention, remove, refer for a decision whether to initiate removal proceedings, or initiate removal proceedings against a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor of an unaccompanied child.”

In simple English, that mean that every new unaccompanied minor who arrives at our border will trigger an amnesty for multiple adult illegal aliens who are already in the country. The illegal aliens who will be eligible for protection from removal include not just actual sponsors, but those who might be potential sponsors and every member of their households.

You don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict what is going to happen next. There will be a new surge of unaccompanied children (UACs) heading to our borders that will eclipse the ones of 2014 and 2015 that led President Obama to invoke the term “crisis” to describe the situation. The crises of 2014 and 2015 were directly attributable to a law, known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which guaranteed admission to the United States to unaccompanied minors from all countries other than Canada and Mexico, allowing them a lengthy legal process to press a claim to remain here.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which took custody of UACs entering the United States under the TVPRA, endeavored to place these minors with family members or other viable guardians while their claims worked their way through the judicial system. Many of these family members and guardians were themselves illegal aliens, but they received no special protections from immigration enforcement by virtue to taking in a UAC.

That all changed on Feb. 15 with an act of Congress and a stroke of President Trump’s pen. Now, not only does every minor who shows up at the border get to stay, every illegal alien who sponsors them, or might potentially serve as sponsor, plus their entire households, gain immunity from immigration enforcement.

No sooner did the president put down the pen he used to sign the government funding bill, he picked up another one to sign a declaration of a national emergency – an emergency that he is now complicit in creating. All he — and more importantly, the American people — get in exchange is one-quarter of his already pared-down funding request to build a border wall, that comes with significant restrictions about where it can be built and cannot even meet the construction specifications that the president sought.

In the end, the country would have been far better off if the president had signed the clean government funding bill that was offered to him last December. The nation would have averted the divisive 35-day partial government shutdown and all the attendant difficulties it created for government workers and the American public. We would still be facing a border crisis, notwithstanding Nancy Pelosi’s denials, but it would have been a much smaller crisis than the one we are almost certain to face as a result of this bill.

Based on past responses to legislation that incentivized illegal immigration, the government funding bill the president signed will likely move the needle from border crisis to full-blown border chaos. Assuming the president’s national emergency declaration is not tied up in the courts far beyond the term of his administration, it will come in handy. A new national emergency will likely be upon us very soon, because the president signed the bill that will create it.

Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group advocating for legal immigration.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.