by Andrea Germanos
Hundreds of rallies were held in communities across the nation on Monday to show widespread rejection of President Trump’s national emergency declaration—an “illegal power grab,” say critics—to fund his proposed racist border wall.
There were over 260 events planned in 47 states, organized by a large coalition of groups—including MoveOn, CREDO, Win Without War, United We Dream, Indivisible, the Working Families Party, Greenpeace, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others—the rolling actions are a rapid-fire response to the president’s February 15th declaration, and are meant “to fight Trump’s fake crisis and racist deportation force.”
“The protestors,” say organizers, “shared their vision of an América that welcomes people seeking asylum and stands with immigrant, Muslim, and Black and Brown communities. People are ready to demand an end to the fake emergency, the racist wall, and Trump’s harmful deportation force.”
The nationwide events come as a wave of lawsuits challenges the emergency declaration. The ACLU was swift in its announcement of intent to sue, doing so on Feb. 15th. “Let’s get something straight upfront,” wrote the organization’s deputy legal director, Cecilia Wang. “There is no emergency. Members of Congress from both parties, security experts, and Americans who live at the border have all said so. What the president is doing is yet another illegal and dangerous power grab in service of his anti-immigrant agenda.”
“The only emergency here is Trump’s assault on the Constitution.”
The ACLU will call on Congress to overturn President Trump’s declaration of emergency powers and to defund his anti-immigrant agenda, including a decrease in detention beds, agents, and border militarization. The organization will also demand Congress hold the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies accountable for their abuses of power — from deaths in detention to family separations to tear gassing migrants, including children, at the border — and create safeguards to limit emergency powers and prevent their abuse.
“There is no national emergency,” said ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir. “Congress knows it, the American people know it, and the president himself admitted it. As we at the ACLU take this fight to the courts, we the people will also take it to the streets and Congress. Shame on the president and any member of Congress who doesn’t listen to the will of the people and end this constitutional crisis.”
In Denver, the ACLU of Colorado joined coalition partners, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, American Friends Service Committee, Colorado People’s Action and Indivisible, at the State Capitol to protest against the President’s national emergency declaration.
“In this action, we are fighting for Colorado’s interests and defending the rule of law,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis and AG Weiser together issued a statement regarding Colorado joining the multistate lawsuit challenging President Trump’s emergency declaration: “Colorado will join at least 12 other states in a multistate lawsuit challenging President Trump’s unconstitutional emergency declaration to build a border wall. After reviewing the specifics of this action over the weekend, we concluded that Colorado could lose tens of millions in military construction dollars that would be diverted to build the wall. Our military bases play a critical role in our nation’s readiness and are economic drivers in several communities.”
New México Governor Michelle Luján Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas announced the state will file suit against President Donald J. Trump over his inappropriate and overreaching declaration of a “national emergency.”
This declaration, which the state’s action would seek to block, diverts funds crucial to the protection of New Mexicans away from their proper channels and puts New México’s economy and people at risk.
“The president’s absurd and dangerous declaration, a bald-faced end run around Congress and the basic tenets of our nation’s system of governance, will not stand,” Gov. Luján Grisham said. “He himself, as was on display for a national television audience last week, freely acknowledged his declaration did not need to be made. The president, plainly desperate, is attempting to set an autocratic precedent that has no absolutely no place in our country. As I have said, his futile demand for a border wall does nothing to address the legitimate humanitarian and public safety concerns at the border, and his continued fear-mongering is actively harmful, as would be his wall. There is zero real-world basis for an emergency declaration, and there will be no wall.”
“As Attorney General of a border state, I am appalled that President Trump would bypass the rule of law, manufacture an ‘emergency,’ and weaken our national defense and readiness for a potential terrorist attack or catastrophic natural disaster,” said Attorney General Balderas. “I stand ready to join with our state partners to file against and prevent this abhorrent misuse of executive power.”
In addition to the rights group, environmental advocacy organizations as well as a number of states have vowed legal challenges to the emergency declaration.
“The only emergency here is Trump’s assault on the Constitution,” said Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. His organization along with Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Legal Defense Fund filed suit on February 16th, calling the proclamation “unlawful on its face.”
“Separation of powers is at the heart of our democracy and the power of the purse is a critical check on the president. Trump’s authoritarian attempt to build his destructive border wall is a flagrant abuse of that constitutional structure,” Segee continued. “If he gets his way, it’ll be a disaster for communities and wildlife along the border, including some of our country’s most endangered species.”
Andrea Germanos is a Staff Writer for CommonDreams.org.
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