Washington, Feb 25 (IANS) A bipartisan group of 58 former national security officials will issue a declaration on Monday saying that “there is no factual basis” for President Donald Trump’s proclamation of a national emergency to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
The 11-page declaration, whose signatories include former secretary of states John Kerry and Madeleine Albright along with former defence secretary Chuck Hagel, will come a day before the House is expected to vote on a resolution to block Trump’s February 15 declaration, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.
“Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border,” the group said.
The former officials’ declaration, which will be entered into the Congressional Record, is intended to support lawsuits and other actions challenging the national emergency proclamation.
Trump’s national emergency declaration followed a 35-day partial government shutdown and it came after Congress did not approve the $5.7 billion he sought to build the wall.
In the declaration, the group said that illegal border crossings were at nearly 40-year lows.
Undetected unlawful entries at the US-Mexico border decreased from 851,000 to nearly 62,000 between 2006 and 2016, they said citing Department of Homeland Security statistics.
Contrary to the President’s assertion, there is no documented emergency at the southern border related to terrorism or violent crime, the former officials added.
They also argueed that redirecting money pursuant to the national emergency declaration “will undermine US national security and foreign policy interests, adding that “a wall is unnecessary to support the use of the armed forces”.
The announcement of the declaration comes after 16 US states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Virginia — on February 18 filed a lawsuit challenging the national emergency declaration.
Civil society groups including the Centre for Biological Diversity, Border Network for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union have also announced lawsuits.