(WSWS) – President Trump’s proclamation of a state of national emergency on the southern U.S. border is a frontal assault on constitutional norms and democratic rights in America. It is the first time in American history that a president has sought to usurp the constitutional prerogative of Congress to decide how public funds are to be spent.
The actual text of the proclamation, released by the White House Friday afternoon, confirms that Trump is seeking to accomplish the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border primarily through the U.S. military and using the vast resources of the Pentagon. After describing the situation at the border as one that “threatens core national security interests” because it “is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics,” the proclamation states: “Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis.”
The proclamation invokes section 12302 of title 10, United States Code, part of a 1953 law that authorizes the secretary of defense to mobilize up to one million military reservists for a period of up to 24 months. This section has been used to mobilize the reserves for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan and was invoked by President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks. In other words, Trump is seeking to treat the U.S.-Mexico border as a major military battlefield, with immigrants and refugees cast as “invaders” threatening the United States.