Obama-appointed judge limits Trump’s border wall construction funding

grab from https://youtu.be/H-f6KkLJF9c
Screen grab … Border wall construction … Credit: GOP

On Friday, Obama-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam temporarily halted the plan by the Trump administration to redirect DoD funds to begin construction of the border wall.

“In short, the position that when Congress declines the Executive’s request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds ‘without Congress’ does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic,” Gilliam wrote.

Trump’s plan to use Pentagon funds for border-wall construction was unconstitutional because the argument White House relied on applied to unforeseen needs, according to Politico.

“Defendants’ argument that the need for the requested border barrier construction funding was ‘unforeseen’ cannot logically be squared with the Administration’s multiple requests for funding for exactly that purpose dating back to at least early 2018,” stated Gilliam.

The preliminary injunction blocks a $1 billion transfer of counterdrug funding allotted to the Pentagon that the administration planned to use for expansions and enhancement of border barriers. The court order may also impact an additional $1.5 billion of the $8.1 billion the administration planned to use for border construction, Politico reported.

The President declared a national emergency in February as part of his effort to find funding for wall construction. This ruling is not connected to that emergency declaration.

However, the Oakland, California-based judge’s order only applies to construction in specific border areas in Texas and Arizona and it does not prevent the executive branch from tapping other funding sources to use for those projects.

Gilliam’s injunction resulted from a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. Politico reported: “The judge said the order rendered moot part of a similar request in a parallel lawsuit filed by 20 states. He denied, for now, the states’ motion to block another aspect of Trump’s plan.”

“This order is a win for our system of checks and balances, the rule of law, and border communities,” said Dror Ladin, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, in a statement. “The court blocked all the wall projects currently slated for immediate construction. If the administration begins illegally diverting additional military funds, we’ll be back in court to block that as well.”

The order limiting use of the counterdrug funds applies specifically to two sectors: El Paso, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona. The judge stated that the administration had planned to start using the monies in question there as soon as Saturday.

“The case is not about whether the challenged border barrier construction plan is wise or unwise,” the judge wrote. “It is not about whether the plan is the right or wrong policy response to existing conditions at the southern border of the United States.

“Instead, this case presents strictly legal questions regarding whether the proposed plan for funding border barrier construction exceeds the Executive Branch’s lawful authority under the Constitution and a number of statutes duly enacted by Congress,” wrote Gilliam.

The Washington Examiner reported that the Pentagon had approved allocating $1 billion for the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to support the Homeland Security Department and Customs and Border Protection in developing part of the wall. The funds were diverted to build 57 miles of 18-feet-high pedestrian fencing, and to construct and improve roads.

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