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California Court To Hear Arguments On Trump Emergency Declaration

Posted Friday, May 17, 2019 - 3:05 pm

A US federal court is set on Friday to hear the first of many challenges to President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency to pay for construction of a wall along the southern border with Mexico.

The two complaints filed in Oakland, California challenge Trump’s February declaration of a national emergency in order to obtain money for the wall, saying the constitution prohibits the move.

About 20 states, including Democratic strongholds New York and California, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), environmental groups and border communities, are involved in the suits.

“Because there are… a range of pots of money that are an issue here, it’s possible we’re going to see a mixed outcome coming out of the case. So it’s entirely possible that the court will block some of the uses of funds and not others,” said Drod Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s national security project.

Trump made building a wall to stem illegal immigration from Latin America central to his successful 2016 campaign for the presidency.

But despite saying Mexico would pay for the barrier, he’s had to ask Congress for $3.6 billion in funding to make the project happen, along with an addition $2.5 billion to fight drug traffickers.

The tug of war over paying for the barrier caused a record-long, 35-day federal government shutdown beginning on December 22, 2018, and lawmakers have thus far allocated only $1.4 billion to pay for fencing and other barriers along the border.

The lawsuits question the urgency of Trump’s emergency declaration, and asks the court to halt wall construction work that the Defense Department said could start as soon as May 25.

It also claims the government violated environmental protections by failing to assess the impact of the wall’s construction in California and New Mexico.

Among the plaintiffs’ evidence are statements Trump made at his press conference following the emergency declaration where he said “I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” and “I didn’t need to do this, but I would rather do it much faster.”

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