Trump’s Latest Executive Order: An Assault on our Constitution

Peter Connolly ’19

     Trump’s call to sign an executive order attempting to nullify the 14th amendment of the Constitution reveals his lack of leadership, a failure to understand the values of our nation, and a dictatorial impulse.

     The clause clearly states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” It has been a foundation of our country since its inception and is the reason why many refer to us as a country built by immigrants. The American Dream, an iconic part of our everyday culture, is built upon the idea that anyone who aspires for the freedom and opportunity to succeed can come to America, work hard, and provide a better life for their children than they had. Our rules-based economy, a government with checks and balances and the ideals of liberty, has drawn immigrants to our shores for centuries.

     President Trump’s attempt to redefine our founding principles will have ripple effects across the globe: many nations look to the U.S. for leadership, and if we can demonize immigrants and deny them paths to citizenship, other countries will follow suit.   

     President Trump’s campaign rhetoric this election season is fueling the nativist impulses of his political base. His strategy has remained consistent, divide the country and energize his base. Immigration has been one of his most divisive issues to date. His decision to authorize 5,200 soldiers along the Mexican border to stop the ‘caravan’ of illegal immigrants fleeing violence in Central America will cost the U.S. government upwards of 185 million dollars. Furthermore, U.S. soldiers are prohibited by U.S. law from detaining migrants, so all they will be doing is supporting border agents and running logistical tasks. Trump is using the power of his office to propagate fears of immigrants in order to win the vote of the American people. The divisions that he is creating are scars that will never fade. He has brought nativism into our national debate and whether he loses re-election or even resigns tomorrow, his supporters will carry on his nativist impulses.     

     Trump’s dictatorial impulse, however, is the most disturbing part of his actions. Executive orders cannot overturn any laws written by Congress, or the legislative branch let alone laws written in our Constitution. The job of the Executive branch is to enforce those laws, but Trump seems determined to use that power as a way to interpret and decide which laws should be followed and which ones should be ignored. His rash decision to try and use an executive order to overturn a Constitutional amendment shows a complete disregard of our founding document and a violation of his presidential oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”. The President should enforce the laws of the Constitution, not try to change them to their will.

     A President that is determined to remold the laws of the Constitution sets a dangerous new chapter in our democracy. The Constitution unites us all and is the inspiration for democracies across the world.