U.S. Rep. Garcia leads protest against Trump's 'phony emergency'
Hundreds rally in subfreezing temps in Chicago’s Federal Plaza to denounce Trump ‘charade’
By Ted Cox
CHICAGO — Hundreds of protesters rallied in subfreezing temperatures at Chicago’s Federal Plaza on Monday against a “phony emergency” declared by President Trump in an attempt to build his border wall with Mexico.
Admitting even as he declared a national emergency on the border that “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” Trump seized emergency executive powers Friday to divert billions of dollars to construction of the wall — a move that is already meeting opposition in the courts and in Congress.
“What took place last week is nothing but a charade meant to continue the big lies about crises that don’t exist,” said U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago in rallying the crowd against the move. “The president is declaring an emergency over a crisis that does not exist.”
Garcia has joined critics who’ve insisted border detentions are actually down in recent years, and that there’s scant evidence to back Trump’s charges that drugs and illegal immigrants are pouring across the border.
Garcia called it “a lawless act that does great violence to our Constitution and our democracy,” pointing out that “the president’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse.”
Congress passed new funding legislation last week to avert another government shutdown — without the $5.7 billion Trump demanded for his border wall — but in signing it into law Friday Trump seized emergency powers and said he’d be diverting billions for wall construction.
Calling it “one more effort at a power grab by the president, who has gone outside the bounds of the law,” Garcia insisted, “Congress will explore both legislative and legal action” against the declaration.
Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civili Liberties Union of Illinois, said nationally the ACLU would be joining 19 states and various other organizations in filing suit “to challenge this fake national emergency and to reverse this action.”
Saying unequivocally, “There will be no wall,” Yohnka added, “President Trump, we will see you in court.”
“President Trump, we will see you in court.”
Ed Yohnka of ACLU of Illinois
Rally organizer Erika Bachner, of Indivisible Chicago and PASO: the West Suburban Action Project, praised Garcia for voting against the funding bill entirely last week.
Last week, Garcia issued a statement saying that, while he appreciated the negotiation efforts to keep the government open, “I cannot support giving additional funds to build the president’s border barrier or wall, nor vote to increase enforcement activities by increasing the total base-level funding for detention-center beds.”
On Monday, Garcia pointed out the Trump administration continues to separate families legally seeking political asylum in the United States.
Bachner called Trump’s declaration “a phony national emergency as an end run around Congress.”
The protest was organized by Indivisible Chicago, joined by ACLU of Illinois, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; PASO: the West Suburban Action Project, Women’s March Chicago, Chicago Women Take Action, Chicago J Street, Women’s March — Illinois, the Service Employees International Union Local 1, SEIU Heathcare IL, the Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th, Arab American Family Services, and other groups.
Hardier protesters followed Monday’s rally with a midday march through Chicago’s Loop.