Some 200 residents took to Ashland's Plaza Monday to protest President Trump's declaration of a national emergency in order to build a wall on the southern border.
One sign read, "Border Wall, Fake Emergency, Climate Change, Real Emergency."
"The wall scares me," said Mimi Pippel, past president of the local American Association of University Women, “because it sets a precedent for presidential power. The Senate needs to stop thinking about their re-election and start thinking about what they were elected for — real emergencies, and this is not one."
Trump declared the national emergency Friday in order to redirect federal money to fund 230 miles of barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border after Congress approved only $1.47 billion of the $5.7 billion he had demanded for the wall. The showdown between the president and Congress created the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Trump cited an increase in families coming across the border and an inability to detain families during deportation proceedings as reasons for the emergency, though overall, illegal border crossings are down from a high of $1.6 million in 2000.
"Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis," his proclamation read.
Ashland was one of dozens of cities across the country holding protests on Presidents Day over Trump’s emergency declaration, including Washington, Chicago and Portland.
As passersby honked their horns, protesters in the Plaza, such as longtime organizer Teresa Safay, shouted, “Hey hey, ho ho, the racist wall has got to go,” and “Emergency racist wall, we really have to stop them all.” Signs read, “Build bridges, not walls” and “The National Emergency is in the White House.”
Marcia Hunter said, “I just feel so powerless and want to do something. I feel we’re getting a lot of people to honk, and that matters.”
Linda Price, waving a “Fake Emergency” placard, said, “(Trump) calls every bit of news fake and, strangely, he’s admitted the emergency declaration isn’t necessary.”
Trump told reporters gathered in the White House Rose Garden Friday, “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”
“He’s lazy and hasn’t worked on legislation to get the funding, Price said. “Climate is the most pressing issue for the country, not this. If we don’t deal with that, then terrible things, fires and flooding are going to get a lot worse.”
Her husband, Robert Price, said, “His statement that it’s not necessary most clearly says what he’s about, that he’s capricious, arbitrary and the declaration has no substance to it.”
Jim White said, “I’m here to defend democracy and help save civilization as we know it. The declaration is fraudulent, no question about it, and I hope it doesn’t work. If it works, then we’re in trouble. He could declare it on the Mueller investigation. As for Democrats following suit, they’re too polite to declare a national emergency over, say, gun control.”
Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have raised concerns about the declaration setting a dangerous precedent and pulling money from other needed projects.
Terri Zuivino said the country has many emergencies, “but the border is not one of them. It will probably go in litigation and be a long, drawn-out process.”
Beverly Jorgensen said, “Trump is the only emergency, and he’s a danger to the entire planet. He has backed out of treaties on nukes, climate and Iran and is promoting fossil fuels when we’ve got 11 years to turn the climate issue around.”
Reach Ashland freelance writer John Darling at email@example.com.