Court: Trump’s border wall spending is illegal

A federal appeals court ruled late Friday that President Donald Trump’s use of emergency powers to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds for the wall at the southern border with Mexico is unlawful.

The judge said that construction must stop immediately.

In the 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a December 2019 district court summary judgment in favor of a request from the advocacy groups the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition against Defense Secretary Mark Esper, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and “all persons acting under their direction … from using military construction funds appropriated for other purposes to build a border wall.”

The latest blow to the Trump administration’s effort to limit immigration was made in response to a separate filing from nine U.S. states, including California, Colorado and New York.

According to court records, following the partial government shutdown in 2019, Trump invoked his authority under the National Emergencies Act to declare that “a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States.”

This came after the president said he was “not happy” with a $1.375 billion appropriation “for the construction of primary pedestrian fencing … in the Rio Grande Valley Sector” in Texas allocated by Congress.

Trump requested $5.7 billion from Congress for border wall construction.

Gloria Smith, managing attorney at the Sierra Club, called the appeals court decision “monumental for border communities, wildlife and lands.”

“We should be protecting communities, our democracy, and the environment, not tearing these things apart as Trump was doing,” Smith said in the statement. “We rise with border communities to stop this administration from further inflicting its relentless agenda and will continue fighting illegal wall construction at all levels.”

In a separate 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in July, the court ruled that Trump’s administration violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive power of the purse, but a 5-4 ruling from the Supreme Court last month prevented the 9th Circuit’s decision from taking effect.

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