Trump Sued for Declaring National Emergency, Protests Planned on Presidents Day

President Donald Trump. Photo: White House
President Donald Trump. Photo: White House

A nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen has sued President Donald Trump for his declaration of national emergency in order to extort government money for building a Mexican border wall to block the entry of illegal immigrants.

Public Citizen has filed the lawsuit on behalf of affected Texas landowners and an environmental Group against Trump. It is filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The complaint urges the court to find that Trump exceeded his constitutional authority and authority under the National Emergencies Act, and to hold that the declaration violates the doctrine of separation of powers that is central to the Constitution.

The court should bar Trump and the U.S. Department of Defense from using the declaration and funds appropriated for other purposes to build a border wall, the complaint requests.

The national emergency declaration, signed by Trump last week, purports to allow the administration to transfer funds appropriated by Congress for military construction to the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border – a wall promised by Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Words have meaning,” said Allison Zieve, Public Citizen’s counsel for the plaintiffs. “The facts make clear that the premise of the president’s declaration – that the absence of a wall in the areas where construction is planned is an ‘emergency’ – is legally untenable and an impermissible basis for seeking to obligate funds that Congress has refused to appropriate for a border wall.”

Trump also said in a press conference announcing the declaration that he “didn’t need to” invoke emergency power to build a wall, but that he “wanted to do it faster.”

“Trump’s unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe, stealing from urgently needed defense funds for the security of our military and our nation,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Public Citizen argues that construction of the border wall and an accompanying enforcement zone would destroy a significant portion of the small amount of remaining habitat along the Rio Grande river.

Meanwhile, rapid-response events are planned on Presidents Day—Monday, February 18—against, as stated, “Trump’s fake crisis and racist deportation force and to stand with immigrant, Muslim, and Black and brown communities to stop Trump’s dangerous and illegal power grab.”

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Rakesh Raman