Overheard debates: The wall and the emergency that it has caused.

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, February 21st, 2019 at 9:55 AM

There are many overheard debates in the Spectator office. Two of the staff who are usually involved in those arguments take on President Trump’s wall, finding out that they think more alike on this topic than usual.  

Have you stayed informed on Trump’s plan for a border wall?

Nathan Brennan: I’ve tried to stay pretty informed on this subject due to its relevance in the current political climate, so I’d like to say I am updated on the plan for the wall.

Anisa Venner-Johnston: I try very hard to stay up-to-date on politics. Not only do I consider it my job as a future journalist, but my minor (which is political science) focuses a lot on the president as he’s so nontraditional. 

Were you aware that Trump is calling a national emergency to secure funding for his wall?

NB: I had heard rumblings that he was planning to call a national emergency, but I didn’t think he would actually do it. When he actually did, I was surprised.

AVJ: I did. I was expecting it. Since his campaign began, he has made outlandish comments about the southern border. First, he demanded Mexico pay for it, then he demanded they pay for part of it. He had to please his base who is so against illegal immigration, specifically illegal immigration surrounding Latin Americans. The wall was going to be the U.S. citizens’ burden.

What do you think of that?

NB: I don’t care for it. I was under the impression that national emergencies were mainly called for the purpose of public safety, such as a disaster resulting from a storm or weather front. It could be argued that he called it because, in his mind, border security is a disaster, but is the situation truly that immediate that funding should be applied right away to satisfy a campaign promise? 

That’s up for debate, but I think it sets a dangerous precedent. The words “national emergency” could now mean anything the president wants money for immediately, and he can now use it to bypass Congress and get funding. For any future president, this is a new way to upset the checks and balances, and I’m not comfortable with it, regardless of what party it belongs to.

AVJ: I’m mad about it. I don’t think he went about this ethically, at all. First, he shut down the government because the border security funds didn’t include money for the wall. Then he declares a national emergency because of the amount of people who are entering the country illegally. I don’t agree with illegal immigration. I do believe it’s a problem that needs to be addressed. However, we have actual national emergencies like climate change. Congress said no, and instead of taking the long way around, he said “f*** you” to the system and decided to take it out of other funds instead. 

What do you think about the border wall in general? 

NB: I’m just not sure what it would accomplish. I don’t know what statistics the president uses about supposed rapists and murderers coming over the southern border of the U.S., but I doubt they’re correct. I doubt that most studies are correct, as they are all likely skewed in some manner to support a particular side of the issue. What I want to know is the truth: what are the actual numbers? If there is an objective study on whether or not a border wall would work, then the government can act accordingly and proceed from there; however, I don’t think much research has gone into this, if any.

AVJ: Border security is important. However, putting a giant concrete wall along the border is so China 1644. I think that we can be more productive. Why are there so many people coming to America? Why are they coming illegally? What can we do to make coming in legally easier? How can we help countries who are losing their citizens? Trump had options; he decided to be ridiculous about the situation. Why is one of the most powerful countries in the world being so defensive to people who pay taxes and are trying to provide for their families, all while taking jobs Americans don’t want? 

How do you think building the wall is going to portray the U.S.?

NB: I think it portrays us as isolationists. For the longest time, we’ve been embroiled in the business of countless other countries and their conflicts, and we became a safe haven for people to be free from oppression. With this wall, it is both physical and metaphorical. Yes, the wall is there, but I think it will send a message to others to “keep out.” This could very well work for those who would do us harm, but what about those simply seeking a better life? It’s a long and laborious process to apply for citizenship in this country, and if people are discouraged from seeking asylum, I feel like we’d lose something.

AVJ: We are already deemed a country in distress being led by an impulsive businessman with no political experience or respect for humans and the world. So, it will likely be added to the list of reasons this country has no moral standards under Donald J. Trump. 

What do you see the future of the wall being if it gets built?

NB: I think more partisan fighting will take place. It has always been a hot-button issue, and I can’t see it be anything other than a polarizing force.

AVJ: Similar to what Nathan said. Bipartisan fighting will continue to happen. The wall is not worth it. There has to be a way we can go about immigration that pleases both sides.

What do you think about state attorney generals taking legal action against Trump (under the pretense that Trump violated the separation of powers/it isn’t a national emergency)?

NB: I think they’re justified. Like I previously said, I think the president overstepped his bounds by using the national emergency function for the border wall, and I certainly think the checks and balances must be maintained.

AVJ: I think it’s a good way to fight back. Even though two border states, Arizona and Texas, aren’t joining the masses, it makes a difference. States that don’t even border with Mexico are taking a stand. Checks and balances are set in stone for a reason. When you’re told “no” as the president, you don’t get to go back and try to force a “yes” for your own agenda. Trump represents a nation of people with different backgrounds, personalities and opinions. However, he only focuses on the few. It’s time he hears from the many. 

Nathan Brennan | ae.spectator@gmail.com

Anisa Venner-Johnston | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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