By J. Manuel Rivera Cortes
“Isn’t that unconstitutional?” asked Lehman sophomore and psychology major, Ana Gomez, about President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Feb. 15. During his speech that day at the White House Rose Garden, the president alleged that the declaration was necessary to expedite his border wall plan. Trump also said that national emergencies have been signed many times by past presidents and that “nobody cares.” Whitehouse.gov states that the president plans to utilize military construction money in order to build the wall.
“I think it’s a symbolic form of bullying,” said Lehman junior and English major Jennifer Monique Crespo regarding the border wall. “With all the reports and research, it has been shown that the border wall is not the main entrance that illegal immigrants use to enter the U.S.,” she added.
A report for the Center for Migration Studies found that the number of illegal immigrants who overstay their temporary visas is double that of immigrants apprehended at the border. The Department of Homeland Security reported that in 2017, 701,901 immigrants remained in the U.S. past their departure date which dwarfed the 303,916 that were apprehended attempting to cross the border illegally.
Trump’s previous effort to fund the wall resulted in a 35-day shutdown, the longest in U.S. history. He failed to acquire the money he demanded and on Jan. 25 he signed an act to fund and resume halted operations. This included paying the salaries of more than 800,000 federal workers across the country whose wages had been held since Dec. 22. The online magazine Vox estimated that 380,000 employees were suspended and 420,000 more worked without pay.
“I think it’s a symbolic form of bullying that the president is doing.”
- Jennifer Monique Crespo, Lehman junior and English major
The shutdown also impacted students, since all financial aid checks, scholarships, and other federal aid were delayed. This impeded the enrollment of thousands of students, including the 59 percent of Lehman students who receive financial aid, according to Lehman’s Department of Institutional Research.
Lehman junior and computer science major, Guevara Torres said, “I was definitely worried, not so much about coverage [of the shutdown] but on what terms my loans would need to be fulfilled.”