Protesters decry Trump’s emergency declaration
SARANAC LAKE — More than two dozen people stood roadside in Riverside Park on Monday, with signs and shouts opposing President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.
The noon protest was the local iteration of similar events nationwide, organized by political action and advocacy groups such as MoveOn.org and the New York Progressive Action Network.
“People are upset, afraid of a power grab here,” said Sue Abbott-Jones, who organized the event with MoveOn. “This is not an emergency. It is a way for him (Trump) to take money from whatever pot he wants to carry out his agenda. …Outright flagrant abuse of power is the way we see it.”
On Friday, Trump declared a national state of emergency on the southern border. Though the National Emergencies Act of 1976, this declaration means that the president can use emergency powers that might normally require congressional approval.
Among these powers is the ability to move money between government spending accounts. The White House has said this will allow for $3.6 billion to be diverted from military construction projects toward building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Opponents to the move — Democrats, watchdog and political action groups, as well as some Republicans — say it’s an overreach and a dangerous precedent.
Political action groups have already filed lawsuits. Sixteen states, including New York, have filed suits as well. In his speech Friday, Trump said he fully expects to be sued, lose in the lower courts and win in the Supreme Court.
Democrats may proceed with a joint resolution disapproving the action. Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, a majority vote for such a resolution in both the House and Senate could, in theory, overturn the state of emergency the president has declared.
Trump could then veto the resolution, and a two-thirds majority would then be required.
The White House has announced additional funds using non-emergency powers will be used, with $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s counter-narcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture account.
Trump also signed a spending package Friday which, among other items, authorized $1.375 billion in border fencing repair and construction. Altogether that’s around $8 billion the president has claimed for the wall.
That is for a non-emergency, protesters said on Monday.
“It’s important that people in our community know that we are standing up against what Trump’s doing,” Sage Ruttan said. “As if a wall is going to solve any immigration issue at the border. And we have so many bigger, more important problems we need to focus on, and I think it’s important that we think about the other stuff. This is not a crisis.”
Noel Carmichael, holding a sign addressing the opioid crisis and gun control, said there are more pressing emergencies in this country.
“I think my sign says exactly how I feel,” Carmichael said. “We have some real emergencies in this country that we’re not treating like emergencies. … I don’t disagree that we need some immigration reform, but the wall is just a political stunt as far as I can tell. And we should put our money on fixing real problems that we have in this country.”