Trump’s Border Wall Plans Blocked by Federal Judge
Friday, May 24, 2019, saw a step forward for immigration as a federal judge blocked officials in the Trump administration from gaining any momentum on a border wall on the southern border of the United States. The White House’s plans for a border wall between the United States and Mexico included construction projects that used funds Congress has not yet approved.
U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam from Oakland, California, claims that President Trump’s border wall plans included diverting federal money to build the wall. This plan was absent appropriations from Congress, and it exceeded the authority of the Presidential office. According to Gilliam, “Congress’s ‘absolute’ control over federal expenditures—even when that control may frustrate the desires of the Executive Branch regarding initiatives it views as important—is not a bug in our constitutional system.” The judge believes that the need for Congress’ approval is an essential feature of the current constitutional system and stated as much in his 56-page decision.
Gilliam’s ruling is the first of its kind on the issue of the border wall between the United States and Mexico. There are other cases across the United States regarding the border wall that are still pending, including one in Washington, D.C. that includes the Trump administration being sued by the House of Representatives. The ruling is a preliminary injunction blocking the administration from continuing any immediate construction projects.
The challengers in the case include environmentalists and southern border community organizations. They will have the opportunity to seek injunctions against any additional border wall projects that may be announced by the Trump administration in the future. Dror Ladin, and American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing the plaintiffs declared the injunction “a win for our system of checks and balances, the rule of law and border communities.”
Trump yet to reply on Gilliam’s injunction
It’s no surprise that the Trump administration has not issued a statement regarding the injunction. The border wall has been a controversial part of the Trump administration’s agenda, leading to a 35-day government shutdown, budget standoff, and the declaration of a national emergency. The President has been attempting to divert money for the construction of the border wall from other government sources. It remains to be seen whether the President will appeal Judge Gilliam’s injunction.
A border wall or some other physical barrier was a key campaign topic during President Trump’s run for the presidency in 2016, going as far as claiming that Mexico would pay for it. There currently is 654 miles of barrier between the two countries that date back to the early 1990s that is considered outdated and needing replaced with stronger materials. The rest of the proposed 1,991-mile border would need to be constructed in areas where there is currently no barrier. Because lawmakers gave the President less money than he requested, he declared a national emergency which allows him to draw money from the military and other sources without Congress’ approval.
Judge Gilliam’s ruling quoted acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who claims the President is going to build the wall regardless of Congress’ participation. According to Gilliam, “The position that when Congress declines the Executive’s request to appropriate funds, the Executive nonetheless may simply find a way to spend those funds ‘without Congress’ does not square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic.”
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