‘Dangerous to democracy’: Berkeley community condemns Trump’s national emergency declaration

A man in suit smirks while standing at a podium.
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UC Berkeley campus and city of Berkeley officials have joined state executives in criticizing President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president, who declared the national emergency Friday, bypassed Congress to gain access to billions of dollars for the wall’s construction. Trump’s use of national emergency powers to circumvent Congress has generated a backlash from across the country.

California, along with 15 other states, has sued Trump in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Trump’s order is unlawful because the national emergency was “manufactured.” The lawsuit also claims that the redirection of federal funds in this manner violates the separation of powers underlined in the Constitution.

 

 

“(Trump) plans to shutdown and divert funds used by California law enforcement that run counter-narcotics operations and fight drug cartels to build his wall,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a press release Friday. “Our message back to the White House is simple and clear: California will see you in court.”

Trump’s declaration has also been condemned locally, both by campus student leaders and city-elected officials, including Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín who said in a tweet that illegal border crossings have decreased in recent years rather than risen, as Trump has claimed.

Berkeley City Councilmember Sophie Hahn also expressed concerns regarding the legality of using a national emergency to secure funding in such a manner. Describing the act as “harmful” to the country’s representative democracy, Hahn said the precedent it sets could be potentially harmful to everyone in the country.

“I believe that it’s not legal and it’s an overextension of the president’s powers,” Hahn said. “I think that it undermines the separation of powers. It’s undemocratic and it’s dangerous. … It’s dangerous to democracy.”

ASUC President Alexander Wilfert also denounced Trump’s use of emergency powers, calling the border wall a “joke” and a “waste of resources.” He added that turning away immigrants at the border “goes against what this country stands for.”

The ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP, will treat Trump’s declaration as it has with previous policies from the president’s administration, according to EAVP National Affairs Director Mark Green in an email. Among other issues, the EAVP will “integrate opposition” of the national emergency into its lobbying platform.

“There is a cruel irony in the fact that students have to fight for every cent of funding but the president can declare a frivolous emergency to fund a vanity project,” Green said in an email. “Past the action itself, the substance of the declaration is nothing more than an extension of the racism and xenophobia that this White House has continued to promote since the inauguration.”

Contact Alexandra Stassinopoulos at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AE_Stass.