February 19, 2020 PROGRAMMING

There is a National Emergency at the Southern Border. True or False?

On February 15, 2019, President Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S. Southern Border with Mexico in order to build a wall. Citing the National Emergencies Act, the presidential proclamation describes the border “as a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics,” where there have been “sharp increases in the number of family units entering,” thus necessitating “the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis.” 

Significantly, the president issued this proclamation after Congress refused his request for billions to realize a campaign promise: “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively.  I will build a great great wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall.”  From congressional resolutions to terminate the public emergency to ensuing federal litigation challenging it, our experts will discuss legal developments and related ramifications one year later.


  • Erica Newland, Counsel, Protect Democracy
  • Laura Peña, Pro Bono Counsel, ABA Commission on Immigration
  • Seth Weinberger, Professor of Politics and Government, University of Puget Sound
  • MODERATOR Engy Abdelkader, Chair, Rights of Immigrants Committee, Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, American Bar Association

Additional Materials

PowerPoint Presentation 
Courtesy of Erica Newland

Time to Rehabilitate the Legislative Veto: How Congress Should Rein in Presidents’ “National Emergency” Powers
Courtesy of Seth Weinberger

Letter Re: A Call for Solidarity and Tips for Engaging in Border Advocacy
Courtesy of Laura Pena

About the Webinar Series

As the next presidential election cycle creeps near, and amid a congressional impeachment inquiry, the Administration has further intensified its assault on immigrants.  From a new "public charge" rule that refuses green cards and citizenship to poor immigrants to denying visas to those who lack health insurance to  collecting DNA from detained immigrants for an FBI database, such xenophobic policies undermine constitutional values and democratic principles. 

The Section's Rights of Immigrants Committee is hosting a six-part national lecture series exploring immigration at the intersection of national security law, public international law and US constitutional law, among other legal areas. During these free webinars, legal scholars, practitioners and political commentators will address this deepening crises in our collective pursuit advancing law and justice.  Effective action begins with knowledge and proper understanding.

ABA Commission on Immigration
ABA Criminal Justice Section
ABA Center for Public Interest Law
ABA Section of International Law
ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division

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CRSJ provides free webinars and resources for legal professionals and advocates nationwide and relies on generous donor support and volunteer service. Your charitable gift ensures that we continue to address the deepening crises in our collective pursuit of advancing law and justice. Thank you!

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