A coalition of 16 US states led by California sued President Donald Trump and top members of his administration to block his decision to declare a national emergency to obtain funds for building a wall along the US-Mexico border, Reuters reports.
“Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was quoted as saying in a statement on Monday.
“We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states. For most of us, the office of the presidency is not a place for theater,” added Becerra, a Democrat.
The lawsuit filed in a California court came after Trump invoked emergency powers on Friday to help build the wall that was his signature 2016 campaign promise.
Trump’s order would allow him to spend on the wall money that Congress appropriated for other purposes. Congress declined to fulfill his request for US$5.7 billion to help build the wall this year.
In a budget deal passed by Congress to avert a second government shutdown, nearly US$1.4 billion was allocated toward border fencing. Trump’s emergency order would give him an additional US$6.7 billion beyond what lawmakers authorized.
Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Michigan joined California in the lawsuit.
The states said Trump’s order would cause them to lose millions of dollars in federal funding for national guard units dealing with counter-drug activities, and also argued that redirection of funds from authorized military construction projects would damage their economies.
In television interviews on Sunday and Monday, Becerra said the lawsuit would use Trump’s own words against him as evidence that there was no national emergency to declare.
Trump said on Friday he did not need to make the emergency declaration but wanted to speed the process of building the wall. That comment could undercut the government’s legal argument.
“By the president’s own admission, an emergency declaration is not necessary,” the states said in the lawsuit.
“The federal government’s own data prove there is no national emergency at the southern border that warrants construction of a wall.”
Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s move on Friday, saying it violated the Constitution and would infringe on their property rights.
The legal challenges could slow Trump’s efforts to build the wall, which he says is needed to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
The lawsuits could ultimately end up at the US Supreme Court.