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El Paso federal judge rules Trump border emergency declaration violates federal law

Prefabricated sections of the new border wall lie stacked atop each other, left, as the foundation for their installation is readied. Construction has begun on a two-mile stretch of border wall in Calexico, on the border with Mexicali, Baja, Calif. (John Gibbins/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

A federal judge ruled Friday that President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border violates federal law.

The emergency declaration underpinned the administration’s planned transfer of $6.1 billion dollars in Department of Defense funding for counter-narcotics operations and military construction projects to pay instead for a border wall.

The plaintiffs, El Paso County and Border Network for Human Rights, asked for an injunction to prevent the administration from using the diverted funds to build a border wall, and U.S. District Judge David Briones asked for an additional briefing.

Briones said in his ruling he would reserve judgment on an injunction for a later date.

The judge said the emergency declaration is unlawful because it violates the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which underpins the right of Congress to determine how federal funds are spent.

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“The court declared that the president’s proclamation is invalid because it illegally sought to override Congress’s decision to not fund further border wall construction,” according to Protect Democracy, whose attorneys argued the case for El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights.

Kristy Parker, a Protect Democracy attorney who served as pro bono counsel to the county and Border Network said the ruling “confirms that the president is not a king, and that he cannot override Congress’s power to decide how to appropriate funds.”

Currently, 46 miles of border wall are under construction in Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, in New Mexico, using funds transferred from DOD’s counternarcotics program.

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© 2019 the El Paso Times