Perhaps more than any other phrase in President Trump’s lexicon, “build the wall” remains his most popular campaign rallying tool for the millions of voters who support his administration’s actions on border immigration enforcement. As he heads full speed into the 2020 presidential election cycle, the president is facing a new challenge via the White House petition process.
But this challenge is of a different sort. It essentially tells the president to “keep going” with his quest to construct new barriers and increase security at America’s southern border. That petition comes on the heels of a recent ruling by the Supreme Court which allows the Trump Administration to continue its denial of asylum seekers who use countries like Mexico as a conduit to gain entry into the United States without having applied for such a status in the countries they arrive to first.
The group behind the petition is encouraging everyone who supports the president’s mission to help them surpass the 100,000 signatures needed in order to receive an official review from the White House. The catch is they must meet that signature benchmark within 30 days. However, after just 150 signatures, a petition becomes searchable to the public on the official website making it much easier for people to locate petitions which interest them.
Though this particular petition reads more like a political fundraising email than an ironclad cerebral and rhetorical defense of why securing America’s borders is a fundamental duty of government, it does attempt to lay out the constitutional validity of such an endeavor by saying the President of the United States, “can do all that is necessary unilaterally.”
The group cites Article 2, Section 2 of the United States Constitution to first justify the president’s authority to command the military and defend the nation. This section also states a president, “… shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States…” This seems obviously applicable to persons who attempt to enter the country illegally and therefore necessitate executive enforcement.
Yet, despite the Supreme Court’s recent decision, as we’ve come to expect, lower courts seek to stall or overturn executive actions they deem outside the purview of a president’s constitutional power. The term is “legislating from the bench” and it’s a sickeningly common practice in American politics and it’s the main contention point within this new petition.
It cites both Article 1, Sections 1 and 7, as articulating only Congress is to exercise its legislative authority and that courts lack the whole authority to unilaterally overturn law. Sadly, none of this knowledge surrounding constitutional interpretations means much to anyone anymore. The constitution, in all its brilliance and complexity, is mostly relegated to a political football in America today. Even the White House petition process seems to fall short of what really matters in this debate over whether a wall should be built.
Not even reasonable pundits seem to add any real value to an important an ongoing debate – one that President Trump has unilaterally brought to the forefront of the country’s political mindset. And while this petition serves as an important affirmation to the president, we mustn’t lose sight of why securing our nation’s borders is so important – and frankly, the articulation of such importance is so badly missing from the national conversation, perhaps these kinds of petitions can breathe new life and higher thinking into the core arguments of how secured borders helps every American, every immigrant, our neighbors to the north and south, and our reputation abroad.
So, let’s get it straight right now: there is a crisis at the southern border, and it’s been there for decades while our politicians have done little more than squabble and apply band-aide fixes to placate their bases. President Trump is the first to stand firmly in opposition of the status quo, opting for a permanent and maintainable solution: physical barriers. This is a core function of the president’s responsibilities.
He has also engaged Mexican and Central American leaders to fix their nation’s internal problems while better incentivizing their citizens to remain at home and participate in their local economy. This is a diplomatic function also well within the president’s purview.
And he has sought legal challenges in the courts to address chain migration, which some argue does more to hurt new immigrants’ prospects of living out the American dream than any other outdated immigration policy. Again, well within the president’s constitutional allowance.
For Trump to acquiesce on any of these fronts is not only unlikely but unacceptable. The tension between the presidency, the congress, and the courts is necessary and vital to the health of our republic. The petition process, at all levels of government, is a microenvironmental indicator of our system’s health and this petition urging President Trump to continue seeking new construction of a border wall is a real example of “We the People” in action.