The White House indicated today that the President plans to declare a national emergency in order to secure funding for a wall along the southern border. Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), issued the following statement:
“The word ‘unprecedented’ is invoked so frequently during the Trump Administration that it risks losing its meaning, but this plan to declare a national emergency over a campaign promise truly represents unchartered territory. Our constitutional democracy is founded on the premise that we are a nation governed by laws, not authoritarian decrees. Allowing a President to declare a national emergency so that he can impose his personal policy preferences after they have been rejected by the nation’s duly elected representatives is the pathway to dictatorship.
“There is simply no evidence to support the claim of a crisis at the southern border, despite the repeated and disproven claims of the Administration, and the weeks spent considering such an egregious abuse of power belie any claim of urgency. This unjustifiable move is not only of doubtful constitutionality, but it is an astonishing assault – even for this White House – on the democratic norms that form the bedrock of our nation.
“With this move the President makes clear that the only unifying theme of his immigration policy is animus towards people of color. When the President and his Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded Temporary Protected Status protections from Haitian immigrants, they did so solely because of race. Even though LDF does not normally engage in immigration litigation, we stepped in and sued DHS because the Constitution unequivocally bars government action tainted by discrimination.
“Simply put: our foreign policy should never be dictated by racism or vanity. We will work with our partners in the civil rights community to develop an appropriate and fulsome response, but no organization devoted to equal justice can stand idly by as constitutional rights are attacked based on illegitimate national security concerns and fictional emergencies.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.