Trump said he’d be sued over his emergency declaration. Enter three landowners from the Texas border
|globalnews.ca 16 Feb 2019 at 04:23|
U.S. President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency in order to secure funding for his border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. But as Abigail Bimman explains, the Democrats could still stop the wall from being built.
admitted that he’d likely be sued over his decision to call a national emergency to secure the funds needed to build a wall along the southwest border with Mexico.
Three landowners along that border, and an organization dedicated to protecting wildlife in the Rio Grande valley, were among the parties that were only too happy to oblige him.
Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen announced Friday that it had filed a lawsuit on behalf three people — Nayda Alvarez, Leonel Romeo Alvarez and Yvette Gaytan — all of whom have an interest in property where the wall is expected to be built.
Also represented in the lawsuit is the Frontera Audubon Society , an organization concerned about the wall’s impact on wildlife.
Together, they’ve filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that Trump’s declaration of a national emergency exceeded his authority under the National Emergencies Act (NEA).
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“The invocation of emergency powers and the diversion of funds to build a wall, are thus contrary law,” the lawsuit read.
Nayda Alvarez, Leonel Alvarez and Gaytan all live in Starr County, Texas, a region near the border crossing at McAllen.
All of them alleged in the lawsuit that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) approached them about surveying and assessing their properties for “border security tactical infrastructure, such as border walls, lighting and roads.”
A wall could cut all of them off from portions of property that have been in their families for as long as five generations, the lawsuit alleged.
Meanwhile, the Frontera Audubon Society is concerned that birds and other wildlife depend on access to brush that’s close to water.
Building the wall, the lawsuit alleged, could “trap wildlife on one side of the wall or the other, and allow no escape route for terrestrial wildlife when the Rio Grande is in flood conditions, which happens approximately every 10 years.”
The lawsuit noted, among other things, that Trump’s emergency declaration invoked section 2808 of the U.S. Code, which authorizes the U.S. secretary of defense to “undertake military construction projects” using money that has been set aside for military projects — so long as that declaration happened in accordance with the NEA.
The plaintiffs here argued that no national emergency exists, and therefore, the declaration is unlawful — and the conditions that would allow for the invoking of section 2808 totally absent.
The lawsuit wants a court to say Trump’s declaration is in “excess of presidential authority under Article II of the Constitution, an infringement on legislative authority and invalid.”
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
Public Citizen’s lawsuit may have been the first one filed against the emergency declaration, as noted by BuzzFeed .
But it was hardly alone.
The Border Network for Human Rights has prepared a lawsuit over the emergency declaration, alleging that a border wall will “injure specific parties and communities on the border, including the County of El Paso.”
“America is governed by the rule of law and the separation of powers,” Kristie De Peña, a co-counsel for this prospective lawsuit, said in a news release.
“President Trump’s threat to declare a national emergency would violate both of these.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also announced an intention to sue over the declaration.
Experts, however, have said there’s no certainty of such lawsuits succeeding.
The U.S. president’s broad discretion could mean that it’s difficult for courts to be persuaded that Trump overstepped his power.