Trump appeals U.S. judge's border wall funding ruling

Saul Bowman
July 1, 2019

A USA federal judge on Friday blocked the Trump administration from using $2.5 billion in funds intended for anti-drug activities to construct a wall along the southern border with Mexico.

The president's emergency declaration drew several lawsuits, including complaints by the Sierra Club and a California-led coalition of 20 state attorneys general.

In the first case, US District Court for Northern California ruled in favor of a challenge to President Donald Trump's attempt to move billions from the Defense Department budget toward building a border wall in El Centro, California, and New Mexico.

Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr.

California's attorney general released a statement saying the ruling permanently stops the administration from proceeding with construction on the wall.

Trump called the rulings a "disgrace", in a news conference following the G-20 global economic summit in Osaka, Japan, "We're immediately appealing it and we think we'll win the appeal", the president said.

"There was no reason that that should've happened", Trump said.

The administration is expected to appeal.

There have been 16 states to file lawsuits challenging the emergency declaration, due to constitutional concerns. Gilliam did not accept arguments from California and New Mexico that endangered populations of bighorn sheep and the Mexican wolf would suffer serious harm from wall construction. He acknowledged the government's "strong interest in border security", but said, "Absent such authority, Defendants' position on these factors boils down to an argument that the Court should not enjoin conduct found to be unlawful because the ends justify the means".

Since then, the judge wrote that the Trump administration has presented no evidence to cause a re-evaluation of the earlier decision.

In all, Gilliam's rulings blocked $2.5 billion of the $6.7 billion that the administration planned to transfer for the effort beyond the $1.375 billion Congress allotted last winter. "We will continue to defend this core principle of our democracy, which the courts have recognized for centuries".

When Congress declined to sign off on spending at the levels sought by the president, Trump eventually declared a national emergency in February to redirect mostly military-designated funding to pay for the project.

Gilliam agreed with the Sierra Club that Trump overstepped his authority by reprogramming federal funds without approval from Congress. "No case supports this principle".

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