Slighted by Mexico and by Congress, Trump resorts to fake news to declare a national emergency and fund the wall

There is no Trump without fake news. A great deal of lying is required in order to declare the existence of a national emergency at the southern border. The numbers for the progression of illegal immigrant entry or drug trafficking across the border show nothing distressing enough to support such an alarming declaration, let alone for the president to appropriate the budgetary powers of Congress in an unacceptable erosion of the separation of powers, particularly when the reason given is the fancy with which Trump makes up “an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”

With statistics in hand, deaths by overdose (more than 70,000 a year), traffic accidents (around 40,000) or firearms (also around 40,000) are far better reasons for declaring an emergency situation. Trump wants a wall, and in order to build it he needs the risk that justifies it. Even if the wall will not help to control immigration, it is the emblem Trump wishes to use to combat it and also to symbolize his presidency. His logic is devastating, and he uses it both to deny climate change when the cold weather hits and to transform the United States into a walled fortress, just as we put a fence around our homes to keep strangers out.

Trump wanted wins and so far has suffered defeats. A national emergency is the loophole for the most resounding one in his still brief, but bumpy presidency. The first blow came from Mexico, when its leaders refused to pay the bill for the wall that the president intended to give them. The second blow was struck by Congress, by winning in the extortion of the administration’s shutdown (80,000 workers without pay for 35 days) without yielding the funding he wanted ($5 billion).

Trump had no choice but to play rough and resort to the special presidential powers that would allow him to use $8 billion diverted from military projects, in exchange for a string of legal proceedings and conflicts with Congress that would have an uncertain outcome in the Senate and that would lead to the inevitable constitutional crisis foreshadowed by his mere election. There are many reasons for such a crisis, but the first has emerged around this grim symbol—a separation wall, a defensive wall—the exact opposite of the Statue of Liberty, which has continued to welcome millions of immigrants to the New York harbor entrance.