Trump’s Emergency Wall Funding Declaration Was ‘Unlawful,’ Court Says

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier lamented the partisan fighting that has held up construction of the border wall in his “backyard”

border wall
Workers repair a section of border wall near Calexico, California, in this 2018 photo. A federal judge ruled that President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to divert $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to the wall – including $1.3 billion for Yuma-area projects – was unlawful. (Photo by Mani Albrecht/Customs and Border Protection)

By Megan U. Boyanton and Kailey Broussard

WASHINGTON – A federal judge in Texas Friday blocked an administration plan to use $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds for border wall construction, calling President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to secure the funds “unlawful.”

U.S. District Judge David Briones said Trump cannot use the declaration to get around the budget Congress approved in February that “restricts the amount and location of funding for border barrier construction.”

The lawsuit, one of many filed to stop the diversion of Defense Department money to the border wall, was brought by El Paso County, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Rights based there. They argued that Trump’s rhetoric has harmed the area’s reputation, costing the community important tourist revenues, and would divert $20 million from projects at nearby Fort Bliss.

“‘Fort Bliss is the lifeblood of the El Paso economy,’ contributing billions of dollars and creating thousands of jobs,” Briones wrote.

In Arizona, the administration’s proposal would have redirected $30 million from a base construction project planned for Fort Huachuca. The Defense Department announced last month that almost $1.3 billion of the total funding tapped by Trump would be used for border wall projects around Yuma.

The Justice Department did not respond Friday to a request for comment on the ruling, and members of the state’s congressional delegation were unavailable.

But Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier lamented the partisan fighting that has held up construction of the border wall in his “backyard,” a project he said both sides have historically supported.

“We need to secure our southern border for pragmatic, rational and unimpeachable reasons,” he said.

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Friday’s ruling was the latest in a series of political and legal challenges, one of which has already reached the Supreme Court.

The most recent feud began late last year when Congress rebuffed Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for border wall construction, sparking a 35-day partial government shutdown after the president refused to sign the budget.

The shutdown – the longest in American history – ended when Congress passed a budget with $1.375 billion for “construction on primary pedestrian fencing” in the Rio Grande sector of the border. The bill also specified that the money could not be used for construction of barriers anywhere else on the border.

Trump signed that budget Feb. 15 – then immediately turned around and declared a national emergency that he claimed allowed him to shift Pentagon money toward the wall.

Briones’ ruling is not the first on this issue. A federal judge in California blocked the wall in June, saying the president had exceeded his authority with the emergency declaration. That injunction was lifted in July by a divided Supreme Court, which said the project should continue while the case worked its way through the courts.

Congress has also weighed in, voting in March to overturn the emergency declaration. That measure was vetoed by Trump, and lawmakers were not able to muster the votes to override.

Congress tried again last month. The House voted 236-174 to reverse the declaration, with 11 Republicans and one independent joining 224 Democrats to pass the bill. The Senate had earlier voted 54-41 for the measure, with 11 GOP lawmakers crossing the aisle in support.

But that is not veto-proof majority. Trump has not yet acted on the latest version.

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5 Comments

  1. I say fine – NOW BRING 100% TROOPS HOME and LINE THEM UP ON SOUTHERN BORDER TO PROTECT AMERICA 1st
    casualties WILL BE MINIMAL to NONE and COST – TRILLIONS LESS
    real casualty – MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX who have been SUCKING US DRY FOR DECADES
    benefit – NO MORE DEAD and NO MORE CASUALTIES OF TROOPS

  2. Kinda amazing how our libtard leftest judges routinely violated their oaths of office and sat on their hands as the chocolate Jesus waved his magical executive order pen to bypass Congress to create DACA yet miraculously found a spine only when Trump attempted to end the program thru his executive order.
    Now those same presiding partisan jellyfish have once again recovered from constitutional laryngitis and magically found their voices only to object and obstruct to anything and everything related to President Trump.
    So when it comes to the authority of the President, which lie is it?
    This latest ruling only proves once again, if it wasn’t for double standards the left would have no standards.

    The Oracle

    • Yeah, O Wise One, that Constitution of ours is a real pain in the butt. Separation of powers and all that. Independence of the judiciary — you would think the U.S. was a democracy with three co-equal branches of government! And I do think a Fact Check might show that tRump’s rule by executive order far exceeds any previous president’s. Maybe the most overt attempt to establish a dictatorship here.

      And, dare I say it, “chocolate jesus?” Do you hate Obama for his politics or his race? He is, after all, half-white.

      • @ Albert: I have zero respect for the man, his politics and his policies. Please don’t confuse me for one of his faithful followers. Thst were convinced that the sun shined directly out of the man’s ass.
        Next time instead of the off handed insult, why don’t you instead grow some testicles and just call me a racist. And in the interest of embracing pluralism, I disdain the white privileged half of Obama equally as much as I do his American of African descent half.
        Since your in your typical mode of flatulating a smoke screen, please address the simple question I originally put forth before you went astray expunging your “facts”, why and how did Obama have the authority to enact DACA by executive order and yet Trump doesn’t have the authority to terminate it.
        We anxiously await your fact filled response.

        The Oracle

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