Sixteen states sue U.S. President Trump to stop declaration of emergency for border wall

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

On Monday, attorneys general from sixteen states filed a combined lawsuit against the state of emergency United States President Donald Trump declared last Friday so he could fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.

The motion claims Trump's declaration is unconstitutional, and that the states filing suit have standing to do so because building the wall would divert funding away from programs that would otherwise be performed to the benefit of these states. Because only Congress may allocate funds in this way, reads the motion, the declaration of state of emergency violates the United States Constitution's separation of powers clause. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of California.

Trump's state of emergency appears to allow him to pull funding for the border wall from other places: potentially, according to Al Jazeera, US$3.6 billion from a Pentagon construction budget, $2.5 billion from anti-drug programs, and $601 million from a forfeiture fund within the U.S. Treasury Department.

"President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. "He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court."

Becerra is joined in this legal action by attorneys general from Maine, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Hawaii.

On Friday, President Trump declared a state of emergency so he could begin the construction of additional wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, claiming this would stem illegal immigration. Congress has repeatedly denied funding for such a wall, and the conflict between congressional leaders and the president caused a delay in budgetary decisions that led to a government shutdown lasting several weeks this past December and January. On Friday, Congress approved a budget authorizing funding with about a quarter as much money as the president had requested for a border wall. He declared a state of emergency the same day.

This is not the first lawsuit to be filed against the state of emergency. On Friday, an environmental group and private property owners from the border state of Texas filed a motion claiming the state of emergency is unconstitutional and violated their property rights.