16 states sue to prevent Trump's use of emergency powers


WASHINGTON – A coalition of 16 states, including California and New York, challenged President Trump on Monday in a court case for his plan to use emergency powers to spend billions of dollars on his border wall.

The lawsuit is part of a constitutional confrontation that Mr. Trump unleashed on Friday when he said he would spend billions of dollars more for the border fence than Congress had granted him. The clash raises questions about the control of spending by Congress, the extent of emergency powers granted to the president and the degree of willingness of the courts to settle such a dispute.

The complaint, filed in the Federal District Court in San Francisco, states that the president does not have the power to divert funds for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, because it is the Congress that controls expenses.

[Read the full lawsuit here.]

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in an interview that the president himself had weakened his argument that there was an emergency at the border.

The dispute stems from measures that Mr. Trump took after the legislature only granted him $ 1.375 billion for the creation of new border gates, bill he signed last week to avoid a new closure of the government.

Mr. Trump claimed to have the power to operate himself three additional funds: $ 600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund for the priorities of the United States. ;law application; about $ 2.5 billion from a military anti-drug account, most of which would be siphoned off from other military programs that the Pentagon has not yet identified; and $ 3.6 billion in military construction funds, he said that he could redirect his resources by invoking an emergency powers act.

Presidents have invoked emergency powers laws nearly five dozen times since Congress passed the National Emergencies Act 1976, but never before was it used to bypass Congress after he rejected the financing of a given policy.

Many critics have questioned the existence of a real wall at the southern border, pointing to government data indicating that the number of people crossing the border illegally has dropped significantly over the last generation and that most drugs were smuggled through the entry points.

The president said, without any proof, that the emergency declaration was justified because the migrants "invading" the United States on the other side of the Mexican border provoked epidemics of criminality and consumption of drugs. drug.

Legal experts were waiting for the Department of Justice to have a court ask him to ignore the facts about the border or what Mr. Trump said, but rather to leave it to the president's decision. The courts have long been reluctant to substitute their own judgment for that of the president over a security threat.

The Trump administration will have a powerful argument to invoke: in the National Emergencies Act, Congress sets no standard as to the conditions to be met for a president to determine the existence from a qualification crisis.

But before a judge can determine whether Mr. Trump has legitimately invoked the law, he should decide whether the litigation is properly considered by the court.

Complainants will have to establish their reputation by showing that they are suffering from a particular harm caused by Mr. Trump's acts. Many of the lawsuits involve people who own land or represent communities along the Mexican border in Texas, where Mr. Trump has focused on the need for more obstacles.

But it's not clear whether one of the fences will be built in California or New Mexico, two of the states involved in the lawsuit, and it certainly will not be in other states involved. in litigation, such as New York, New Jersey or Hawaii. .

Mr. Becerra, California Attorney General, suggested that the plaintiffs in the state lawsuits had reasons unrelated to the fact that portions of Mr. Trump's wall would be built on their territory, stating that "the The unconstitutional action of the president could cause damage to many parts of the country. "

Residents of California and other complaining states could "lose the funding they paid with their taxes, money for drugs or the Department of Defense for men and women and military installations, "he said during the interview.

To further complicate matters, the administration announced plans to spend the funds one after the other, starting with the $ 1.375 billion allocated by Congress, before reaching the last military building fund. The Department of Justice is likely to argue that if no disputed expenses are imminent, the case is not ripe for legal action and must be dismissed.

Ian Bassin, executive director of Protect Democracy, said El Paso County would likely argue that Trump's emergency declaration would hurt his economy as it told potential businesses and tourists that they needed to stay in away.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the wave of lawsuits. Mr. Trump stated that he expected to be sued and lose in lower courts, but he predicted that he would eventually prevail in the Supreme Court.

But claimants may also dispute whether the administration correctly interprets several laws.

the provision allowing the Secretary of Defense to transfer money from the Pentagon from the drug account that Mr. Trump plans to exploit, for example, indicates that his authority can be used "in any case, the point for which funds are requested has been refused by Congress "- raises the question of whether additional funding for border barriers is considered a prohibited element.

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