| February 14, 2019 12:00 AM
Despite the good news of a pending deal for government funding, Washington is still very far from a reasonable consensus on the border and a wall.
We fear the Democrats’ facile political slogans are fueling a dangerous new set of beliefs on that side of the aisle. And we fear that President Trump will continue the destructive tradition of expanding executive power and abusing emergency declarations.
A proper discussion on border enforcement will begin only when Democrats can embrace the very reasonable idea that Trump likes to communicate: A country without borders is not a country. Democrats go so far in their resistance to Trump’s immigration stances and rhetoric (some of which we have also opposed), that they often end up calling for open borders. Just beneath the surface in Democratic talk is the notion that the U.S. is morally required to admit all comers. This is why Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that “ a wall is an immorality.” This is not only untrue, but embarrassing.
Citizens’ demand for an orderly immigration system is not immoral. It is a rightful expression of their self-governance. The requirement that all migrants present themselves at lawful points of entry and that they be deterred from illegal crossings, is not only a moral requirement but an essential one if any orderly immigration system is to exist. The rule of law depends on it.
The Democrats’ open-borders stance, intended as an expression of tolerance and openness, is instead an attack on the principles of self-governance.
Most of California’s border with Mexico has walls or wall-like barriers such as fences. Surely, Pelosi is aware of this. If a wall in San Diego is moral, then how is a wall in the Rio Grande Valley immoral?
The question was never over whether to build “a wall,” but whether to upgrade or extend existing walls. This is quite obviously a matter of prudence. In some places, walls are more or less needed. In some they are more or less feasible. A rational Congress interested in border security and the rule of law would give Homeland Security the funding it needs to build barriers in the highest-value places.
And there may be plenty that Trump’s DHS can do, even with this slender congressional support, to fund enhancements of border barriers. But we reiterate our earlier warning that Trump would be exceeding his proper authority if he tried to use emergency powers to fund wall-building that Congress didn’t fund.
Presidents have for decades stretched the definition of “emergency,” and it would undermine the constitutional order to aggressively stretch emergency powers. The border situation is bad, but it’s not a crisis and it’s not getting worse. If immediate action were needed before Congress could act, we would understand an emergency declaration. Using emergency powers because Congress won’t act in the way Trump demands would make Trump a one-man legislator.
With the passion of a potential government shutdown apparently behind us, we hope that on immigration, Washington can come to its senses.