A group of former US national security officials is set to release a statement arguing there is no justification for President Donald Trump to use a national emergency declaration to fund a wall along the US-Mexico border.
The statement, which was reviewed by the Associated Press news agency, has 58 signatures from prominent former officials, including former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and John Kerry, former Defense Secretaries Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta and former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
“There is no factual basis for the declaration of a national emergency,” the statement reads. It argues that border crossings are near a 40-year low and that there is no “terrorist emergency” at the border.
The president maintains that a wall is needed to stem irregular immigration and the flow of illicit drugs into the country. But statistics show that irregular immigration has been on the decline for decades and most illegal drugs enter the US through official ports of entry.
The statement is set to be released on Monday, a day before the Democratic-controlled House is expected to vote to block Trump from using the declaration.
If that measure passes the House and the Senate, Trump has vowed to use the first veto of his presidency in an effort to block it.
“On the wall? Will I veto it? One hundred percent. One hundred percent, and I don’t think it survives a veto. We have too many smart people that want border security, so I can’t imagine that it could survive a veto,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office last Friday.
On Monday, Trump took to Twitter to tell Republican senators to stay “strong” on border security.
“I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security. Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country – and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats “trap” of Open Borders and Crime!” he tweeted.
I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security. Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country – and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats “trap” of Open Borders and Crime!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
Trump declared a national emergency earlier this month to bypass Congress to obtain wall funding beyond the $1.4bn approved to build 55 miles (88.5km) of border barriers in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley.
The move allows the president to tap into funds from the Pentagon and other budgets.
A coalition of 16 US states led by California sued Trump and top members of his administration last week over the declaration, saying it is a misuse of presidential power. Thousands also rallied nationwide in protest against Trump’s emergency declaration.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as three Texas landowners and an environmental group, have also filed lawsuits to challenge Trump’s declaration.