“I didn’t need to do this,” President Donald Trump said after declaring a national emergency last week over unauthorized immigration along America’s southwestern border. The proclamation opens the door for him to direct money toward building a border wall that Congress refused to fund.
But many Americans agree with Trump’s moment of honesty: The lack of a border wall isn’t a national emergency, they say, and he shouldn’t have declared it one just to defy legislators. HuffPost asked readers to share what they feel is a real national emergency facing the country. In hundreds of replies, readers spoke with urgency about various challenges America faces. We’ve shared some representative responses below.
Unless we restore these innocent, migrant children in detention camps to their loved ones, we are truly an abhorrent country and no better than Hitler or Himmler and their supporters. There is no way to rationalize this: Irreparable harm is being done to these children’s psyches. — Susan Bunny Gibson
Children separated from parents at the border with no real records of where they went, who has them or how to reunite them with their parents. This is the biggest crisis! It’s a crisis of Trump’s doing, and should be the lead-off story every day until these children are found and reunited. We still talk about the girls taken in Africa by Boko Haram (400 girls), yet we have separated thousands with no real tracking accountability. Why is this not the lead story every single night until they are found? — Carol Kamenish
The real national emergency is that there is a president in the Oval Office that is out of touch with reality and feeds off chaos in our world so he creates it. And Republicans in office that look the other way and bury their heads in the sand while lining their pockets with NRA money, which allows this gun violence to erupt in such a fashion that we the people are afraid to send our kids to school, shop at a mall, work with disgruntled employees, go to a nightclub to have fun, attend a music festival. All because stronger gun laws need to be put in place and they refuse to address it and actually put in measures to work at a solution! — Cheryl Tompot
Last year, my sons did their first ever lockdown drill. My 8-year-old son came home and had 100 questions. One of them was, “What if someone came to the house with a gun?” I responded that he was to go with his older brother and get out of the house, get to the neighbors and call for help. After a few minutes he realized I had essentially told him they would be leaving me and his large beloved dog behind. ... This is the world we live in now. [My kids] have to have a plan in case a gunman comes in their school. In case one comes in their home. ... I don’t understand why background checks and confiscation of guns from those who have restraining orders and mental health issues is too much to ask. Somehow, asking my preteen children to learn how to hide from gunmen is not too much to ask? — Anne Davis
The real national emergency is our current domestic terrorism problem. We have entitled white men who have easy access to guns that are sexist and racist. Their misogyny and prior domestic abuse are typically ignored — because what’s more normal than that? — and then when they continue to believe they’re entitled to so much that they’re not getting, they grab their easily accessible assault weapon and go kill those that they think have wronged them. If they don’t kill themselves, the police take them in peacefully. And that’s the end of the story. The cycle just continues. — Teal Waxelbaum
As for global warming, the United States is actively contributing to the problem rather than being the leader it could be. Global warming affects the entire planet and has already had permanent consequences on this earth: species extinction, disappearing glaciers, catastrophic weather events and sea level rise. We have the opportunity to mitigate some of the damage currently happening and shift the focus to being responsible stewards of this planet rather than plundering it for shareholders. A president who declares global warming a national emergency would be a responsible, forward-thinking president concerned with the longevity of this planet’s diversity. And unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of president. — Konrad Juengling
Our country and, I daresay, our globe are under attack, and it’s imminent. Global warming is the single biggest threat to everything. If our country does not take a progressive stance in fighting [climate change], it’s all for nothing anyway. — Nicole Gillen
The real national emergency is climate change — the undeniable fact that our planet is deteriorating and that unless the world (not only our country) changes [its stance on] pollution and many other things that contribute to climate change, our planet will no longer exist. And then it won’t matter who the president was. — Samantha Crosby
The real national emergency is the stoking of fear of “other.” Brown, black, gay, transgender, non-Christian. An innate human trait is to fear what is different, Trump and the GOP are exploiting that fear to gin up support, to the peril of those “others.” A few weeks ago, a woman said straight to my face that sure, she believes that gay and transgender people are born like that — then she went on to say that it’s because “nature is defective.” She did not know that my young child is transgender or that 1 in 1,600 humans are born gender ambiguous. … There is not a mass uprising of good Americans running to the defense of fellow LGBT humans. There should be and needs to be. When we read the history books about what happened to the Jewish people and how the Germans turned blind eyes, remember this is exactly how atrocities begin. Dehumanization is dangerous. The 2016 GOP platform declared humans like my child “against the laws of God and nature” under a section explaining its judiciary appointment belief system. Disturbing and horrific. — Amy Czyz
The real state of emergency is the conditions of the black nation within America. We are the very foundation upon which this country was built. It was our blood, our sweat, our tears and our free labor that built this nation ... [but] our health care is in jeopardy. Whether it’s our high infant mortality rates, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness or being poisoned by high levels of lead in our water. Our youth are being miseducated. And our culture is not only being stolen but erased. We witness the brutal killings of our brothers and sisters at the hands of the police forces who are here to protect and serve the interests of the ruling class, which happens to not be us. And it seems that to even think of demanding reparations for these injustices is laughable to the United States. — Iman Essiet
Flint Water Crisis
I believe wholeheartedly that America’s most pressing national emergency is the lack of clean water still in Flint, Michigan. There are people suffering, and we are doing nothing. Nobody has been brought to justice. They can’t sell their houses because they can’t afford to or, mainly, it’s difficult to sell because there’s a lead hazard. I believe that it’s due to racism that this is still occurring because many of the residents are [people of color]. Flint needs help, and the rest of the world turned its back once it got enough press for 10 minutes. — Monika Porch
I think the real national emergency is Flint! Flint hasn’t [had] clean water, and it’s affecting the community and the people of Flint. I can believe that the racists are willing to donate money for a wall that’s going to cost billions but everybody [acts as if] Flint doesn’t exist. — Mariame Conde
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.