In a long battle to restore integrity to America’s southern border, victories are hard-won, sometimes followed by reversals, and demonstrate the need for continued, unyielding and principled leadership. Last week, the Supreme Court gave a victory to President Trump. Americans are safer as a result.
In recent years, the onslaught of Central American gangs like MS-13, violent Mexican drug cartels like CJNG, and an upsurge in cocaine, heroin, and synthetic drug production, have made closing the border more important than ever.
Illegal immigration was another threat confronted head-on by President Trump. In May 2019, an eon ago now, caravans of illegals crashed our borders – seeking illegal entry. A total of 145,000 pushed for illegal entry that month, encouraged by Democrat-led “sanctuary cities.”
President Trump said, “no entry,” and continued to reprogram funds, fortify deficient parts of the wall, and build out new wall. In late 2018 and early 2019, he had to shut down the government to affirm this was more than a campaign promise; it was national policy, and it affected Homeland security. By May 2020, border apprehensions had fallen to 23,000, and even in January 2020 stood at 36,000.
Working together, parts of the Justice, Homeland, Defense and State Departments have worked to restore border sanctity and internal security. On the drug issue, Defense, State, and DEA have worked with allied source and transit countries, while others tackled violent cross-border gangs.
Beyond better intelligence and interdiction, the Trump Administration has not shied from arrests, prosecutions, and deportations of cross-border criminal groups. In the last three years, much-maligned ICE has deported over 16,000 gang members and arrested 2,000 members of MS-13.
But the rubber meets the road at the border. That is why President Trump focused attention in 2016 – and has since – on securing the southwest border. And that is why his vindication, in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, matters so much.
In a seminal action, the Supreme Court refused to declare President Trump’s reprogramming of federal defense dollars for wall construction a violation of law, for having been done without congressional authorization. Instead, they declared work can continue.
For reference, liberal lower courts had opined that President Trump exceeded his constitutional powers by declaring a national emergency, permitting him to reprogram $2.5 billion appropriated for other purposes to the wall. A 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court refused the lower courts’ reasoning, and – as they did in July 2019 – allowed the wall’s construction to continue.
Three takeaways come from this gratifying – and entirely logical – outcome.
First, President Trump was right to identify border transgressions – including Obama-era increases in drug crime and illegal human traffic – as a national security threat, declare an emergency, and realign federal resources to address the security issue.
He was right in 2016, right later to reprogram for the wall, and is right today. Americans are safer for that insight, resolve, and stick-to-it-ness. Fewer kids will die from drug overdoses on foreign-source drugs, or gang violence perpetuated by those deported, blocked or apprehended. Fewer illegal aliens will burden taxpayers, especially as we dig out from COVID-19 and social unrest.
Second, the President was right to battle for executive prerogatives in the federal courts, prevailing – on this issue repeatedly – at the Supreme Court. Any future Democrat challenges – and House Democrats were behind this one – will be mute by the time they again reach the high court, as that portion of the wall dependent on reprogrammed money is almost complete. The 200th mile was finished in June.
Third, the message behind the message: President Trump remains fully committed to protecting America’s national security – on multiple fronts. These include his border wall, forcefully confronting regional drug traffickers, cross-border Mexican cartels, and Central American gangs, and putting 200 law and order judges – and two Supreme Court justices – on the federal bench.
Looking forward, Americans who appreciate border security, law and order, deterrence of drug trafficking and gang violence in America’s cities, suburbs, and Heartland – should remember that these outcomes are not an accident. These issues are front-and-center in 2020. Progress can be reversed – or reinforced.
Supreme Court decisions as narrow as 5-4 are always at risk. Democrats are hardly retreating from anti-Trump challenges, open borders, sanctuary cities, and defending illegal immigration. The only sure way to preserve progress – is to assure the White House, Senate and House do not reverse the law. Like so many equities, this one too will be resolved in November. Let us not forget.