Trump confident he will prevail against
lawsuits over emergency declaration
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[February 20, 2019]
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump expressed confidence on Tuesday that he would prevail against a
lawsuit filed by 16 U.S. states seeking to block his declaration of a
national emergency to fund a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The group of states, including California and New York, has charged the
president and top officials in his administration with taking away
taxpayer funds for their communities to fulfill a promise from his 2016
campaign to curb illegal immigration and the flow of drugs.
Trump's remarks to reporters in the Oval Office suggested he was not
concerned or surprised by the states' legal challenge.
"I think, in the end, we're going to be very successful with the
lawsuit," Trump said. "It's an open-and-closed case."
The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed its own lawsuit in a
U.S. District Court in California, alleging that "Trump disregarded the
will of Congress with his emergency declaration."
Legal experts have said challenges to Trump's emergency declaration,
which critics have called unconstitutional, face an uphill and probably
losing battle in a showdown likely to be decided by the
conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump declared the national emergency under a 1976 law after Congress
declined to give him the $5.7 billion he wanted to build parts of the
barrier this year.
The president's demand for wall funding triggered a historic 35-day
government shutdown that ended in January. Democrats and Republicans
later agreed on a deal to avoid another shutdown with $1.4 billion
allocated toward border fencing. Trump agreed to sign that and then
declared a national emergency, redirecting an additional $6.7 billion
beyond what lawmakers authorized for the project.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine,
Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon,
Virginia and Michigan joined forces for the lawsuit.
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Workers and U.S border patrol officers stand next to an excavator
working in a section of the new wall between El Paso, Texas, in the
United States and Ciudad Juarez as seen from the Mexican side of the
border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis
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 that redirection of funds from
authorized military construction projects would damage their
Texas landowners and an environmental group also filed suit against
Trump predicted the legal challenges when he made the announcement
in the White House Rose Garden last week, and he defended his right
to make the declaration on Tuesday.
"We need strong borders. We have to stop drugs and crime and
criminals and human trafficking. And we have to stop all of those
things that a strong wall will stop," he said.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the country's top
Democrat, has called a wall immoral. The issue is likely to be a
flashpoint in the 2020 presidential campaign, just as it was when
Trump, a Republican, ran for president in 2016.
The ACLU suit, filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern
Border Communities Coalition, said that in addition to diverting
taxpayer money from other federal projects, Trump's barrier would
affect "ecologically sensitive habitats" and disturb wilderness
areas along the border.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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