President Trump Declares National Emergency Over Border Wall

President Donald Trump faces lawsuits over emergency declaration 

When he declared a national emergency last month to secure funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, President Donald Trump said he expected to be sued. Since then, 16 states joined a coalition lawsuit against the move, with four more joining Wednesday, for a total of 20. 

President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Washington.
Photo: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

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Update 4:15 p.m. EDT March 13: Four more states have joined a coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration last month to divert money appropriated by Congress for other purposes and use it to build a wall across the southern U.S. border with Mexico.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin have teamed up with the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia in filing the lawsuit.

“The addition of these members to our coalition makes us even stronger. It illustrates the extent to which President Trump’s fake National Emergency declaration will harm our communities and services nationwide,” Becerra said in a statement.

“In America, no one is above the law,” he said.

The lawsuit contends Trump’s declaration is “unlawful and unconstitutional.”

Building an additional border wall was one of Trump’s main campaign promises during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Original story: Take a look at the lawsuits that are currently pending or will soon be filed:

American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union, Sierra Club, ACLU of Texas and ACLU of Northern California filed suit Tuesday against Trump, arguing that the president was not authorized to use his “emergency powers to evade congressional funding restrictions.” that the military construction projects he plans to take the funds from are critical and that the wall, if built, would hurt communities at the border and endanger wildlife and the environment.

>> Read the latest from our Washington Insider Jamie Dupree

The suit was filed in the Northern District of California.

“The president is using a bogus declaration of a non-existent emergency to undermine our constitutional system of checks and balances, in the process deeply harming communities living and working at the border,” said Cecillia Wang, ACLU deputy legal director. “We’re filing suit to stop the administration from moving forward with this patently illegal attempt to steal taxpayer money for a border wall that Congress, security experts, and Americans have said is unnecessary and harmful.”

>> Read the lawsuit

Attorneys general of 16 states

A 16-state coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed suit Feb. 18 to stop the emergency declaration from proceeding.

>> National emergency likely to be blocked by courts, DOJ tells White House: reports

In a statement announcing the suit, California Gov. Gavin Newsom accused Trump of “manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up 'national emergency' in order to seize power and undermine the Constitution.”

 

“President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt,” Becerra said. “We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states.”

The attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia joined Becerra in filing the lawsuit.

>> Read the lawsuit

“We’re confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm,” Becerra said on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday. “Whether it’s (taking money from) emergency response services, or whether it’s fires or mudslides in California, or maybe tornadoes and floods in other parts of the country, or whether it’s our military men and women and their families who live on military installations that might ... have money taken away from them, or whether it’s money taken away from drug interdiction efforts in places like California -- a number of states, and certainly Americans, will be harmed. And we’re all going to be prepared,” 

>> Trump's border wall: What is a national emergency?

A spokesperson for Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser told KDVR he joined Becerra’s suit after determining the state would be hurt if money is transferred from military installations to the wall.

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Biological Diversity is an environmental group. It claims the president did not identify a legal authority to declare the emergency. The group said the wall will block wildlife from its natural habitat “and could result in the extirpation of jaguars, ocelots and other endangered species within the United States,” according to The Washington Post.

>> Trump signs funding bill to avoid government shutdown, declares emergency to build border wall

Public Citizen

Public Citizen is an advocacy group that filed a suit Friday after the president’s Rose Garden announcement. The group is filing on behalf of three Texas landowners and an environmental group to block the emergency decree. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the Post reported.

>> Can Congress repeal the national emergency declaration?

Border Network for Human Rights and El Paso County, Texas

Officials representing Texas's El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights are suing Trump with help from a pair of nonprofits, KFOX reported Friday.

“America is governed by the rule of law and the separation of powers. President Trump’s threat to declare a national emergency would violate both of these,” Kristie De Pena, director of immigration and senior counsel for the Niskanen Center, said Friday in a statement. Attorneys for the Center and for Project Democracy are assisting in the suit.

“Our lawsuit would aim to stop the dangerous precedent this would establish for the presidency and the immediate harm it would inflict on communities along the border,” De Pena said.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said the declaration would add to the damage the president has already caused to El Paso’s reputation.

“President Trump has already made many negative and false statements about our community in the attempt to justify his border wall,” he said. “He has never reached out to the leadership of our community to determine if this is actually an emergency.”

During his State of the Union address earlier this month, Trump pointed to El Paso as an example of a city that was once “considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities.”

“Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities,” he claimed.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

A lawsuit filed Friday by ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington aims to make government documents that could determine whether the president has the legal authority to invoke emergency powers to fund his promised border wall public. The group didn’t file suit against Trump but instead sued the Justice Department.

In a statement, CREW officials said the group filed a Freedom of Information Act request in January to get legal opinions and other documentation surrounding what was then Trump’s proposal to declare a national emergency to fund the border wall.

“President Trump’s threatened declaration of a national emergency for these purposes raised some serious questions among the public and Congress that the president was considering actions of doubtful legality based on misstated facts and outright falsehoods to make an end-run round Congress’ constitutional authority to make laws and appropriate funds,” attorneys for CREW said in the lawsuit.

>> Read the lawsuit filled by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington 

“Americans deserve to know the true basis for President Trump’s unprecedented decision to enact emergency powers to pay for a border wall,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.

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