Trump Just Declared a Fake Emergency to Get His Way

The state of play

We already know Donald Trump is a wannabe authoritarian who praises dictators and routinely makes us less safe. In fact, we’re tracking the #TrumpThreatLevel here.

We also know that Trump just signed a deal from Congress that increased boots, beds and some “barrier” funding (see our explainer here). 

But that wasn’t enough for him. In addition, Trump just declared a fake national emergency to get his way on his unnecessary and xenophobic border wall. 

Predictably, because the American people have shut down his bad ideas, Trump the would-be tyrant is now going around Congress, going around the will of the people, and abusing the powers of the presidency.

But Congress is pushing back. Rep. Castro (D-TX) has introduced a resolution to terminate this fake emergency, and has been joined by more than 200 other Members of Congress (MoCs) in the process. Here’s why Congress must quickly move to pass this resolution and reject Trump’s illegal power grab.

What exactly did Trump do?

Congress has passed a large number of “emergency power” statutes, that only activate when the President declares a national emergency. There are two in particular that allow repurposed funding for certain construction projects during a national emergency, that Trump seems to think he can use in this situation. But, of course, there is no national emergency other than the crisis Trump has created himself at the border, and it is far from clear that courts would actually let Trump use these particular powers for this purpose.

Make no mistake: this is an illegal, anti-democratic power grab rooted in racism. There is no emergency. Congress and the people have rejected Trump’s wall. By going around constitutional separations of power and declaring a fake emergency in a desperate attempt to get his way, he is abusing his power, full stop. It is a misuse of authorities that are intended for actual emergencies. It sets dangerous precedent that could further erode our democratic norms and institutions. Worse, it puts the communities most under attack by Trump at even greater risk.

For way too long, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to check presidential power grabs. This must stop. Over and over, presidents have cited “national security” rationale to erode democracy and threaten rights and liberties. Think of the internment of Japanese Americans, post-9/11 torture, and more. We think Trump’s fake emergency declaration is illegal and will be immediately challenged in court. But Congress has a role here too, and must aggressively push back.

To repeat: There is no emergency. If Trump declares a fake one, his racist decision would be a blow to our democracy and we expect Congress to fight back.


Call Now: Demand Your MoCs Reject Trump's Fake Emergency

Congress has an obligation to check Executive Branch abuses, and there is a clear mechanism for doing it. They need to act to protect our democracy by passing Rep. Castro's resolution to terminate the phony emergency. Additionally, Democrats should immediately schedule hearings and investigations into Trump’s illegal power grab. Call your MoCs and tell them to reject Trump’s fake emergency.

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Here is what Congress can do now

The National Emergencies Act expressly provides a procedure for Congress to terminate a state of emergency by passing a resolution. Congress has never used this procedure. But they should this time.

This is the mechanism that Rep. Castro and his colleagues are using by introducing their resolution. You can look here to find out whether your Representative has co-sponsored this resolution. If so, thank them! If not, urge them to do so and publicly commit to support it immediately.

Congress has an obligation to check Executive Branch abuses, and there is a clear mechanism for doing it. They need to act to protect our democracy by passing a resolution to terminate the phony emergency.

Additionally, with their new oversight powers in the House, Democrats should immediately schedule hearings and investigations into Trump’s illegal power grab.


Call Your Member of Congress Now

I am horrified that Trump abused his power to declare a fake emergency rooted in hate. He is going around Congress and the will of the people to get his way on his racist and unnecessary wall and deportation force. Congress must do everything in its authority to stop this antidemocratic power grab. Will [Member of Congress] commit publicly to supporting the Castro resolution to terminate this false emergency? Will they also publicly call for investigations into this abuse of power?

I will be closely watching for [MoC]’s statements and actions on this. Donald Trump is the national security risk and I am looking to [MoC] to stop him.

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Submit a Letter to the Editor Now

Letters to the Editor might not seem like the flashiest way to get your member of Congress' attention. But there’s something about a sharp Letter to the Editor in a hometown paper that can really get under the skin of the most powerful lawmaker. As we wrote in the original Indivisible Guide, taking control of the narrative is a critical piece of winning any policy fight - a letter to the editor does just that. 

Use our Letters to the Editor tool, plug in your information, and we'll give you sample text and the ability to submit a letter to your local and regional papers with a click of a button.

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