Fifty-eight former U.S. national security officials advised the Trump administration in a letter Monday that they’re conscious of”no crisis that remotely justifies” diverting funds to build a boundary wall. The officials, who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in the Clinton administration, and former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a Republican who served in the Senate along with the Obama administration.
Others include Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense and director of the CIA; Gil Kerlikowske, former head of Customs and Border Protection; John Kerry, former secretary of state; and Nick Rasmussen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
The letter, according to its authors, is a declaration intended to be utilized in lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump’s Feb. 15 decision to redirect $8 billion in federal funding in order to begin construction of a barrier across the southern border. Trump had promised during his campaign to build the boundary wall but Congress has offered less than $2 billion in federal funding after months of negotiations.
The official’s truth check Trump’s basis for declaring the national emergency, pointing out that illegal border crossings are near 40-year lows, there is no documented terror threat, human and drug trafficking will not be affected by a border wall, and there is not any violent crime threat posed by immigrants. A study from the Cato Institute found that undocumented immigrants in Texas have been 44 percent less likely to be incarcerated than native-born citizens, ” the letter said.
Not only is the national emergency not justified, but it could be damaging to the interests of the United States. “In the face of a nonexistent threat, redirecting funds for the construction of a wall along the southern border will undermine national security by pulling funds from Department of Defense applications which are responsible for keeping our troops and our country safe and running effectively,” they said.
The national emergency and other unilateral actions to block immigrants coming from the south could also strain diplomatic ties in the Western Hemisphere at a time when the U.S. should be addressing issues in the region, like the political turmoil in Venezuela, the writers state.
In addition to redirecting funds for the border wall, the Trump administration has begun to return asylum-seekers into Mexico where they need to wait weeks or years for a decision on whether they could seek refuge in the United States. Another movement, which has been blocked by national courts, sought to obstruct asylum rights for immigrants that cross the border between legal ports of entry.
“Should a genuine foreign crisis erupt, this lack of credibility will materially weaken this administration’s ability to marshal allies to support the United States, also will embolden adversaries to oppose us,” they said.