Once again a court has ruled that the Trump Administration's use of emergency powers to build the border wall is illegal. This time it was the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in a lawsuit brought by the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) and the Sierra Club. SWEC is a co-plaintiff in the case, by virtue of being a member of SBCC.
The ruling stops wall construction in areas where it is being funded using military construction funds, including in New Mexico's bootheel, a critically important area for wildlife such as jaguars and Mexican wolves. The Trump Administration is expected to seek an emergency stay of the order from the Supreme Court.
Here's a statement about the ruling from the ACLU:
October 10, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last night ruled that President Trump’s use of emergency powers to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds for the border wall is unlawful. The ruling came in a lawsuit, Sierra Club v. Trump, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition challenging President Trump’s abuse of emergency powers to build a border wall using funds Congress explicitly denied. Although the district court previously stayed its own injunction blocking these sections of wall, the court of appeals order lifts that stay and requires that construction cease immediately.
“The courts have once again confirmed what everyone knows: Trump’s fake ‘national emergency’ was just another pretext for targeting immigrants and border communities,” said Dror Ladin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “It’s past time for Trump to finally give up on trying to raid the federal budget for his wasteful and illegal project.”
The district court last year and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year ruled that President Trump’s attempt to circumvent Congress and transfer $2.5 billion in military pay and pension funds for border wall construction is also unlawful. The district court blocked the illegal wall construction, but because of a temporary Supreme Court stay on the district court’s order, the Trump administration has continued construction using funds unauthorized by Congress.
The Supreme Court has not addressed the billions of dollars subject to today’s ruling, which concern different statutory authorities.
President Trump declared a national emergency on February 15, 2019, to secure border wall funds Congress denied him. While declaring the emergency, President Trump stated that he “didn’t need to do this” but he’d prefer to build the wall “much faster.” He added that he declared a national emergency because he was “not happy” that Congress “skimped” on the wall by denying him the billions he demanded.
Construction of the border wall has desecrated tribal lands, leveled wildlife preservations, and destroyed border communities.
Below is additional comment from:
Gloria Smith, managing attorney at the Sierra Club: “Today’s decision is monumental for border communities, wildlife and lands. The 9th Circuit court put a stop to Trump’s unconstitutional wall construction with stolen military funds. We should be protecting communities, our democracy, and the environment, not tearing these things apart as Trump was doing. 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.”
Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition:
"This is a much welcomed reprieve for border communities who have been trampled and scarred by deadly walls that undermine our binational and multicultural character. Trump's vanity wall has led to the destruction of our environment, risks extinction of endangered wildlife, and has desecrated tribal, sacred lands, all to become a narcissist's campaign prop. We need to put an end to immoral, inhumane and wasteful border policies and usher in a new era where people are safe and where we treat others with dignity and respect."