Editorials

Trump threat to close border a looming disaster for Texas as Washington waffles

Texas senator comments on Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a border wall

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn comments on President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a border wall while in Fort Worth to promote STEM Education Law.
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U.S. Sen. John Cornyn comments on President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a border wall while in Fort Worth to promote STEM Education Law.

After months of calling President Trump’s national emergency declaration on the border a “manufactured crisis,” and voting to overturn it in Congress, even some Democrats are joining the media in acknowledging the humanitarian plight there.

“By anyone’s definition, by any measure, right now we have a crisis at our southern border,” former Obama Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said recently.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo, reporting from the border this week, passionately lamented the lack of federal action: “Why is there no urgency?”

Under both Presidents Obama and Trump, Cuomo noted, Americans and their leaders in Washington have been rightly sickened by images of immigrant children in pens. “What about now?” he asked. “This is worse. More people. More challenges. More danger. More distress.”

While chiding the president for mischaracterizing the desperate migrants, Cuomo pleaded of congressional Democrats: If you’ve got a better plan than the president, “then do it, and do it now. You don’t even have a hearing scheduled. You want to call building walls immoral — what about doing nothing in a situation like this? What do you call that?”

As for President Trump, as we noted when he first threatened to close the southern border entirely last November — and as he threatens it anew — that would only add an economic crisis onto a humanitarian one. Not to mention the likely political crisis he’d create for himself and his party as millions of Americans and Mexicans suffer from the absurd halting of some $1.7 billion in daily trade between the neighbor nations.

A largely open southern border has created a crisis, we wrote last fall. A closed one would only create another.

Whatever and whomever you blame for this crisis — decades of lax enforcement, Mexican and Central American economies and societies, Democratic intransigence, Trump’s making the border magnetic by promising to secure it — what we’re left with is the simple fact that people, and civil order, are suffering. And our leaders are doing next to nothing about it.

It cannot be emphasized enough that President Trump’s stated willingness to close border crossings would be an unmitigated disaster. Even if it’s an idle negotiating ploy, it has to be taken seriously. And it simply cannot happen. Texas, in particular, would be devastated economically and socially as friends, families, customers, business associates — and friendly neighbors — are cut off from each other.

The Texas Senate on Tuesday became the latest to acknowledge the obvious in its resolution recognizing the border crisis. But who thinks Congress will heed the state Senate’s plea to fund and implement border security? The Texas resolution was passed on a party-line 19-12 vote, and Washington is even more polarized.

Moreover, the hastily passed resolution “supports the president in his efforts to move forward with emergency action,” which leaves open the question: Does that include closing the border? Should senators not have weighed in on such a monumental threat to the Texas economy and way of life?

The border needs securing. We implore Congress to put aside its paralyzing partisanship and arrive at a compromise on how to do it.

The president’s national emergency declaration is in force, after his veto of Congress’ objection. Absent a successful legal challenge, he’s free to take steps on his own to secure the border.

Closing it is an entirely different matter.

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