Open Again, For Now
Thursday the Senate failed to act on two proposals to end the shutdown. As a result, 800,000 federal workers missed their second paycheck yesterday.
Friday morning, major airports began reporting serious flight delays due to an “increase in sick leave.” Flights at New York’s LaGuardia airport ground to a halt. Several air traffic controllers in Texas reportedly resigned.
Meanwhile, thousands of illegal immigrants are still pouring across the border and another migrant caravan just crossed into Mexico as it marches north.
The crisis at the border is unacceptable, as is the dysfunction in Washington. This stalemate must end.
Friday afternoon, President Trump announced that he has agreed to temporarily re-open the government. The president praised federal workers and promised that they would receive back pay very quickly.
Throughout the shutdown, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer have repeatedly refused to negotiate with President Trump. They have also repeatedly blocked Republican efforts to pay government workers.
So President Trump is breaking the logjam and giving Schumer and Pelosi one last chance to come to the table.
President Trump said that members of Congress would immediately begin negotiating a homeland security package to secure the border, and that walls must be part of the solution. Without a deal, the president warned that the government would shut down again in mid-February.
Noting that we already have 700 miles of barriers and fencing, the president said, “Walls should not be controversial. Every Border Patrol agent I have spoken to has told me that walls work.”
President Trump also had a warning for members of Congress. He said, “I have a powerful alternative, but hopefully it won’t be necessary at this time.”
I was at the White House Thursday and I can tell you that President Trump is seriously considering declaring the situation at the border to be a national emergency. An emergency declaration would allow the president to use unspent money from various agencies to start building additional border barriers.
Of course, the left will challenge any such declaration in the courts, just as it has challenged virtually everything Trump has done. But there is no questioning the president’s authority here. There are currently 32 active national emergencies.
And just as the Supreme Court upheld the president’s authority to limit immigration from certain nations, I believe the Court would find that the president has the constitutional right to secure the border.
But as the president said, hopefully that won’t be necessary. Hopefully, members of Congress will do their jobs and provide the resources necessary to secure the border.
Trump Takes Action
President Trump isn’t allowing the stalemate over the border wall to slow him down. He is taking steps to combat one of the biggest loopholes in our immigration laws — fake asylum claims.
Currently, any illegal immigrant who manages to cross our border is virtually guaranteed to stay as long they claim to be seeking asylum from something. The law requires that they be released into the country pending a hearing, which takes years.
Because of this loophole, asylum claims have skyrocketed 1,700% over the past decade. But we also know that the vast majority of these claims are invalid and that most illegal immigrants claiming asylum never show up for their hearings.
For those reasons, the Trump Administration announced that Central American migrants making asylum claims will have to remain in Mexico while we process their applications and consider their cases. Starting Friday, some migrants currently in the U.S. are being sent back to Mexico.
Restoring Balance To The Courts
President Trump this week nominated 51 judges to the federal courts. If confirmed, these judges would fill approximately one-third of the total federal judicial vacancies that currently exist. Their appointments would go a long way toward restoring balance to our courts.
In related news, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently lifted an injunction that had prevented the state of Texas from denying taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood. The abortion provider stands to lose $3.4 million as a result of the decision.
In its ruling, the court pointed to undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress proving that Planned Parenthood was harvesting body parts from aborted babies and likely violating laws against late-term abortions.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the decision, saying, “Planned Parenthood’s reprehensible conduct, captured in undercover videos, proves that it is not a ‘qualified’ provider under the Medicaid Act.”