Several groups filed a motion Thursday asking a judge to impose a preliminary injunction to halt the Trump administration’s construction of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border under the scope of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTim Ryan expected to announce bid for presidency this week: report Kushner’s security clearance was denied due to concerns of foreign influence: report Morgan Ortagus named as new State Dept spokeswoman MORE’s national emergency declaration.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the motion in federal court in California, as part of an ongoing lawsuit brought forward on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, challenging Trump’s national emergency declaration.
The groups argue that the national emergency declaration is unconstitutional because only Congress has the proper authority to appropriate funds.
The groups claim in the filing that building the wall with funds set aside for other purposes could cause “irreparable damage,” leading to their request for the national injunction.
“Neither a declaration of emergency nor the statutes that Defendants have invoked permit the President to disregard Congress’s enacted appropriations legislation. Nor have Defendants even attempted to comply with the environmental protections Congress required in the National Environmental Policy Act,” the lawsuit reads.
“An injunction is necessary to prevent Defendants’ disregard for the statutes enacted by a coordinate branch of government, and their attempt to usurp its powers.”
Trump in recent days has threatened to shut down the southern border.
But he pivoted his stance on Thursday, saying that he will give Mexico a year to address issues like drug trafficking before he takes steps like shutting down the border or slapping Mexico with auto tariffs.
The ACLU’s lead attorney on the case Dror Ladin told The Hill that he is concerned about both the emergency declaration’s constitutionality and the impact the wall will have on his clients.
“It is certainly a civil liberties issue when the president claims the power to unilaterally do things like take money that is unauthorized by Congress or declare a bogus emergency to grab a bunch of extra power that the Constitution doesn’t give the president,” he said.
He added that the group hopes a judge will grant the injunction before construction on the wall begins.
The SBCC is a group of 60 organizations that try to improve the lives of people who live at the Southern Border. The organization’s director said in a statement that a wall will hurt the region.
“The walls and hyper-militarization that President Trump continues to demand by threatening a border shutdown will only harm the region, and the nation as a whole,” said SBCC director Vicki B. Gaubeca,“The lengths that Trump is willing to go to prop up his sham national emergency are tearing apart the binational and multi-cultural fabric of our region.”
A Sierra Club attorney also said the wall could have a devastating environmental impact.
“Trump’s border wall would cause irreversible damage to desert ecosystems and sabotage wildlife protection efforts,” Sierra Club managing attorney Gloria Smith said in the statement.
The Hill has reached out to the White House, Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and Treasury Department for comment.
Thursday’s filing is part of a lawsuit filed in February to block the president’s border wall, arguing that his emergency declaration used to divert funding to the wall is unconstitutional.
“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,” Cecillia Wang, ACLU’s deputy legal director, said in a statement at the time.
“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.”
Trump in February declared the national emergency, after Congress refused to provide him with his requested amount of funding for the border wall, triggering a 35 day-long partial government shutdown.
Trump said at the time that he “didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” which his critics have pointed to as evidence that the emergency declaration is illegitimate.
Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDems escalate Mueller demands with subpoena Some Mueller team members say final report more damaging to Trump than Barr summary suggests: NY Times Denver mayor: Trump admin denying legal immigrants citizenship over work in state’s marijuana industry MORE also said at the time of Trump’s order that the declaration is valid under federal law.
And Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenCEOs urge Trump officials not to close southern border Nielsen to make three-day visit to Mexican border Cutting aid to Central America misguided, impulsive, and supremely counter-productive MORE and other officials have claimed there is currently a crisis at the border, and that they lack enough resources to handle the influx of migrants attempting to enter the country.