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58 Former National Security Officials Debunk Trump’s National Emergency Claim

A bipartisan group released a letter explaining that there is ‘no factual basis’ for a national emergency

President Donald Trump listens during his meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office of the White House in WashingtonTrump US China, Washington, USA - 22 Feb 2019

President Trump in the Oval Office

Susan Walsh/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Earlier this month, President Trump declared a national emergency under the guise that undocumented immigrants represent a security threat to the United States. On Monday, a bipartisan group of 58 former national security officials released a statement explaining why the action is unwarranted. “Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border,” the group wrote.

The 11-page statement claims there is “no factual basis” to justify Trump’s national emergency declaration. In doing so, it notes that illegal border crossings are at their lowest point in decades, that the majority of drugs coming across the border are brought through legal points of entry and that siphoning funding from military programs in order to build a border wall “will undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.” The officials also write that there is no crisis relating to violent crime at the border, and that Trump’s proclamation will only “exacerbate the humanitarian concerns that do exist at the southern border.”

Among those who signed the letter are former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, former CIA director John Brennan, former national intelligence director James Clapper, former defense secretary Chuck Hagel and several officials from the Bush and Obama administrations.

Border Patrol agent Vincent Pirro looks on near a border wall that separates the cities of Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, in San Diego. President Donald Trump is expected to speak about funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border during his State of the Union address TuesdayBorder Wall, San Diego, USA - 05 Feb 2019

Border Patrol agent Vincent Pirro looks on near a border wall that separates the cities of Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California.

According to the Washington Post, the letter is intended to support litigation “and other actions” challenging Trump’s declaration. Several lawsuits have already been filed in an effort to stop the president from circumventing Congress to build a border wall, including one brought by 16 states. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution brought to the floor by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) that seeks to “terminate” the declaration. Even if the resolution passes the House and the Senate, however, it is likely to be subject to a veto from the president.

On Monday morning, Trump warned Republicans about getting “led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security.”

The former national security officials who signed the letter released Monday aren’t the first officials to dismiss the idea that undocumented immigrants constitute a threat. In January, current intelligence officials, led by National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, briefed Congress on the most imminent threats to the nation’s safety. Mentioned at length were Russia, ISIS and North Korea, but not the southern border. Shortly after the briefing, the president rebuked the officials for failing to align with his personal views regarding the threats.

Trump, himself, has claimed there’s no need to panic about the situation at the border. While announcing the national emergency declaration earlier this month, he essentially admitted that there is no real emergency. “I want to do it faster,” he said. “I could do the wall over a long period of time. I didn’t need to do this.”

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