ACLU Sues President Trump Over National Emergency Declaration for Border Wall Funding

The American Civil Liberties Union sued President Donald Trump's administration on Tuesday over its declaration of a national emergency to get funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Coming one day after 16 states sued to stop the president's attempt to build a border barrier, the ACLU made good on its plan to file a similar lawsuit to halt the president.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Cecillia Wang said the lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, was about preventing the president from undermining the country's system of checks and balances.

"The president is using a bogus declaration of a nonexistent emergency to undermine our constitutional system of checks and balances, in the process deeply harming communities living and working at the border," Wang told The Hill.

Trump signed a temporary spending bill last week that allocated $1.375 billion for his proposed border wall, which was less than a fourth of his requested $5.7 billion in funds. Shortly after he signed the spending bill, the president declared a national emergency as a way to circumvent Congress and get money for a wall that he said would deter drug trafficking and human smuggling.

Though the president had previously threatened to use his power under the National Emergencies Act to get his funding, he put it into action last Friday, setting off a firestorm of lawsuits against the White House.

"We're filing to stop the administration from moving forward with this patently illegal attempt to steal taxpayer money for a border wall that Congress, security experts and Americans have said is unnecessary and harmful," Wang said. Declaring a national emergency allows the president to move money from other accounts, such as counternarcotics and military construction projects, and use it for the wall.

The ACLU filed its lawsuit in the Northern District Court of California. The lawsuit claims the border wall would disrupt the environment and harm wildlife in several border communities.

The president predicted lawsuits would follow his declaration of a national emergency, and he predicted it would end up in the Supreme Court, where he said he would get a "fair shake."

"We will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we'll get another bad ruling and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court," Trump said.

The government went into a 35-day partial shutdown that began on December 22, 2018, when a stopgap spending bill did not include any funds for his border wall. After the government reopened, a bipartisan committee convened to hash out a spending deal that included $1.375 billion for the wall and other border security measures.

When the spending bill didn't include the president's demanded $5.7 billion for the wall, he went into emergency mode.