Given that Sen. Mitt Romney is the direct descendant of back-to-back generations of displaced persons, and that he has sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution, he should vote to terminate the president’s national emergency.
In 1912, 17 years after fleeing across the United States’ southern border to Mexico, the Romney family was forced to abandon their lands once again and flee back across the border to avoid riots and violence caused by the swell of anti-foreign sentiment and racism that came with the Mexican Revolution.
Now, just over 100 years after the Romney family sought refuge by crossing Mexico’s border into the United States, Trump is responding to requests for refuge and opportunity at that very same border with dehumanization and a unilaterally declared state of emergency that would allow him to single-handedly reallocate funds towards building a wall.
Trump has openly stated that he didn’t need to declare a national emergency. He also said he only chose to do so to get his wall funding faster than Congress was willing to give it to him.
The Appropriations and the Taxing and Spending Clauses of Article 1 of our Constitution clearly state that the power of the purse belongs to Congress: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States;…..No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by law.”
The National Emergencies Act only delegates this congressional authority to the executive “during the period of a national emergency.” If President Trump did not need to declare a state of national emergency, as he has stated, there is no national emergency, and President Trump is unconstitutionally seizing congressional power.
Regardless of whether or not we agree with his agenda, when a sitting president admits his actions were an unnecessary and direct attempt to bypass the will of Congress on the discharge of powers that belong to Congress, alarms must be sounded. As someone who has sworn to defend the constitution, Senator Romney has a duty to not be complicit in the president’s effort to usurp congressional power for the executive.
In addition to Romney’s duty to defend the separation of powers as enshrined in the Constitution, he has an opportunity here to honor the legacy of his family and the families of many other Utahns by ensuring our border security measures do not unreasonably infringe on any modern-day displaced person’s right of asylum, especially at the very border at which his own ancestors sought asylum.
While we need to defend our borders against those that would do us harm, Congress must find ways to do so without infringing on the universal right to asylum. As a man of integrity, Romney must choose to defend the Constitution’s separation of powers and to honor the mercy shown the refugees in both his personal and our shared religious heritage by voting to terminate the president’s declaration of emergency.
Kaitlyn Dressman, a Utah resident, is currently studying medicine in New York City. She is a passionate advocate for ethical government and is a member of Omega Beta Iota, a national political honors society for medical students.