Pretty nifty microcosm here of the national “debate” on immigration, to be honest. The key question is asked only at the very end: Does Geraldo believe there’s a global right to citizenship in the United States? He does not give a straight answer.
But we all know what the answer is, don’t we?
As the hours pass I grow more curious to see if Trump will pull the trigger on declaring a national emergency tonight, and not just because it’s anyone’s guess what the courts would do with it if he does. There’s a prudential reason for him to refrain — namely, some congressional Republicans will hate the idea and will say so, handing the media an easy “GOP fractures over Trump gambit” storyline. The precedent is awful too, as Ilya Somin explains:
Consider a scenario where Elizabeth Warren wins the presidency in 2020, but Republicans in Congress refuse to allocate funds she claims are necessary to combat climate change and institute the gigantic “Green New Deal” program many progressives advocate. President Warren could then declare climate change to be a “national emergency” and start reallocating various military and civilian funds to build all kinds of “green” construction projects. She could declare that climate change is a threat to national security, and use the Army Corps of Engineers and other military agencies to participate in the project.
Right, but you can guess the response to that. It’s the same one offered whenever Trump calls for ending the Senate filibuster and a bunch of right-wing critics push back. Simply assume that the other party is willing to be as ruthless as you are and the argument against setting bad precedents evaporates. If you believe President Warren would declare a national emergency to fund green initiatives irrespective of what Trump does tonight then he might as well go ahead and declare his own emergency. If you’ve convinced yourself that the Overton window is destined to move anyway, you’d be foolish not to take advantage by giving it an early shove.
Of course, as that logic spreads, it creates pressure for both sides to throw concerns about dangerous precedents and perverse incentives out the window. And then it’s a race to the bottom.
Anyway, I think he’ll pull the trigger on declaring an emergency, not because he thinks he’ll win in court but because he thinks he won’t. There are all sorts of difficult logistical questions he’d need to consider if the courts let him fund the wall with “emergency money” — how much cash, where exactly to build, what sort of timeline, etc etc — but those go away if they stop him. And that’s okay from Trump’s standpoint. The goal of the shutdown from day one wasn’t necessarily to win, although that would have been nice, but to signal his resolve to his fans to follow through on his big campaign promise in the loudest possible way. He shut down the government, he dug in for weeks, he made a big primetime speech, he’s going to the border for a photo op, soon he’ll declare an emergency which the courts will block — but he did his best. He tried. He fought. It’s the establishment that stopped him. It’s kabuki from the get-go.
That’s a good outcome for him, though, especially if he uses the emergency declaration as an excuse to sign the clean funding bills that House Democrats have sent to McConnell. Job one for him right now is ending the shutdown before Friday’s payday for federal workers. An emergency declaration lets him do that: He no longer needs to veto bills from Congress that lack wall funding, he’ll say, because he can just take some money for the wall from the Pentagon per his new order. “Why didn’t you sign that order weeks ago, then, instead of going through the motions with a shutdown?” he’ll be asked, and … I’m not sure how he’ll answer. The “emergency” at the border, such as it is, didn’t develop just within the past 18 days. But the answer isn’t important. He made his stand, paychecks will soon be flowing again, Democrats can boast that they didn’t blink, and then everything will be handed to the courts to sort out. Very America 2019.