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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 11, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: Trump sued over border wall plans

As of Feb. 18, 16 states have filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration, challenging his plan to use emergency powers to fund the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Following Trump’s declaration Feb. 15, which would allow him to access billions of dollars more for the border wall than what Congress granted him, the suit argues that Trump does not have the power to divert funds to the wall because Congress controls government spending.

The lawsuit was organized by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The other attorney generals involved in the lawsuit are from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.

Becerra told CNN that to obtain the money to fund the wall by declaring a state of emergency at the southwest border is unconstitutional and undermines the US government’s structure.

“We’re going to try to halt the president from violating the Constitution, the separation of powers, from stealing money from Americans and states that have been allocated by Congress, lawfully,” Becerra said.

This emergency declaration is the first that authorized military action since the 9/11 attacks, which Trump justified in his declaration by referring to the migrants crossing the border as a criminal invasion. To declare this emergency was not the only way to fund the wall, Trump acknowledged in his declaration speech, but it is the fastest.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” Trump said. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

The states’ lawsuit is one in a series of suits that have been filed against the administration over the national emergency declaration. Over the weekend, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit saying Trump has no legal authority to declare the state of emergency and warned that the wall would prevent wildlife from being able to freely pass through their natural habitat. The American Civil Liberties Union also filed a lawsuit saying that Trump cannot legally divert emergency funds to build the wall.

El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) are also filing a lawsuit against Trump with the help of Protect Democracy and the Niskanen Center, two nonprofit organizations. Fernando Garcia, founder and executive director of BNHR, told KFOX14 that the wall would harm the communities surrounding the border.

“The declaration of a state of emergency at the border would further damage what has already been done in our community,” Garcia said. “It’s going to increase intimidation, fear within our border communities.

On Feb. 19, Trump criticized the states’ lawsuit and claimed via Twitter that opposition to the state of emergency is the result of leftist radicalism. He also noted that he had anticipated legal challenges with declaring the state of emergency but is not deterred. He also criticized Becerra’s state for its plans of a high-speed railway, which gained national attention in recent weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom said building it would not be feasible due to costs and logistical challenges.

“As I predicted, 16 states, led mostly by open border Democrats and the radical left, have filed a lawsuit in, of course, the 9th Circuit!” Trump said via Twitter. “California, the state that has wasted billions of dollars on their out of control fast train, with no hope of completion, seems in charge!”

Meredith Burke can be reached at mburke@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @meredithsburke