Three groups filed suit against the Trump administration on Friday in federal court over the administration’s use of funds allocated to the Department of Defense for border wall construction.
The Trump administration has announced its plan to use $3.6 billion in military construction funds and $2.5 billion in other military funds for wall construction. The administration is attempting to use these funds despite congress’ exclusive annual appropriation of $1.375 billion for border wall construction. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Sierra Club, and Southern Border Communities Coalition sued, asking the Northern District of California District Court to block the president’s diversion of the funds. They claim that Congress did not appropriate the funds for border wall construction and the President’s actions usurp Congress’ constitutional budget allocation powers.
In a press release accompanying the suit, Gloria Smith, the managing attorney at the Sierra Club, expressed the organization’s environmental and humanitarian concerns over the wall:
The Trump administration’s illegal transfer of billions of dollars for wall construction has created a disaster in the borderlands. … The destruction of cultural sites, Tribal burial grounds, endangered species, protected cacti and water resources shows that Trump will stop at nothing for this wall — not irreplaceable resources nor the Constitution. Trump wants a blank check for these destructive projects, but it is imperative that the courts continue to halt his egregious abuse of power.
The director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition echoed the Sierra Club’s sentiments, “These irresponsible and dangerous walls don’t make us safer, but do harm border communities and wildlife. We must stop Trump’s unconstitutional cash grabs and move towards a New Border Vision where human rights are respected and all communities feel safe.” ACLU National Security Project staff attorney Dror Ladin remarked that “The president is doubling down on his unlawful scheme to raid taxpayer funds for a xenophobic campaign promise that is destroying national treasures, harming the environment, and desecrating tribal lands.”
The suit follows a Fifth Circuit decision in early January to permit the release $3.6 billion for wall construction. The Supreme Court additionally ruled in 2019 that the Trump administration could use $2.5 billion of Department of Defense funds for border wall construction.