As an organization made up of post-9/11 veterans, the events over the last month are all-too familiar to us. We remember a time when another president sold the American public on a lie that our national security was under threat. That make-believe crisis resulted in a number of devastating wars — some of which continue, beyond any reason, to this day. Decades later, President Trump is equally determined to sell his unpopular wall at any cost, and not surprisingly, he’s invoked another threat devoid of any real facts and loaded with scapegoating and bigotry.
The simple truth is that our southern border is in a state of crisis only because of the chaos and militarization that our government has brought to it, in the form of blocking access to the asylum application process, criminally irresponsible troop deployment, continued violence by Border Patrol and Homeland Security, and the failure to address a growing presence of unchecked vigilante militias. We believe that migration and seeking asylum are a right, especially because we’ve seen firsthand just how many lives have been uprooted by the US violent, exploitative economic and military policies worldwide (including in the home countries of those at the border).
Moreover, with the advent of the government shutdown, Trump’s decisions are not solely hurting migrants and asylum seekers, but hundreds of thousands of working families across the country. This includes countless veterans, who make up 30% of the federal workforce. Members of the Coast Guard are being advised by their command to hold garage sales to put food on their tables, and many thousands of workers have done their jobs for weeks with no pay and no assurance that a paycheck is on the way. We see how the GOP is using this as a chance to rally their supporters against a supposed enemy who has done nothing to them, deflecting attention from the people actually responsible for bankrolling and continuing this crisis.
What’s also familiar to us is that as the President threatens to declare a National Emergency to secure funding for his wall, he’s completely bypassing the legislative branch and any clear checks-and-balances. If his efforts succeed, we will see an expansion of Executive authority like nothing that has existed in modern history. Cynically enshrined by the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration, unchecked Executive power explains in part how we have come to be in this dire situation. Adding to the danger is that if this National Emergency authorization goes into effect, its funding will come from resources designated specifically for natural disaster-related emergency relief — a real threat that’s only increasing in this moment of climate crisis.
We encourage all people of conscience, including our fellow veterans and service members, to resist this authorization if it comes to pass. We won’t forget that it was General Mattis who suggested this course of action to President Trump, and we won’t forget the corporations poised to profit from both the government shutdown and the ongoing militarization of the border.
These are trying times, but we draw strength from the millions of people who are showing up for their communities across the country and across the border, demonstrating that a politics of division will not win over a politics of solidarity.