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Trump administration asks El Paso federal judge to reject border wall injunction

President Donald J. Trump visits the border area of Otay Mesa, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, a neighborhood along the Mexican border in San Diego, Calif. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The Trump administration has asked a federal judge in El Paso to reject an injunction that could stop construction of hundreds of miles of border wall.

El Paso County and the nonprofit Border Network for Human Rights sued President Donald Trump and members of his administration over the use of military funds — appropriated by Congress for other purposes — to build a wall at the southern border.

U.S. District Judge David Briones decided in October that the administration’s plans to divert Department of Defense funding to pay for the wall violated federal law, as did the president’s January declaration of a national emergency at the border.

Following that decision, the county and Border Network asked Briones to issue a nationwide injunction stopping construction of the wall using the military funds.

In a case filing last week, the Trump administration called the plaintiffs’ petition for a nationwide injunction against border wall construction “overbroad.”

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The government argued that its “compelling interests in constructing barriers along the southern border … to counter illegal drug activity and support the use of the armed forces dramatically outweigh Plaintiffs’ purported reputational, economic and organizational resource interests.”

The county argued that the national emergency declaration, and construction of the wall, misrepresents the relative safety of border communities and hinders El Paso’s ability to foster economic development. Border Network argued that the administration’s policies antagonize El Paso’s immigrant communities.

In a separate case brought by the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition, a U.S. District Court judge in northern California issued an injunction blocking border wall construction paid for with military funds. But the Supreme Court lifted the injunction in July while the case proceeds through the appeals process.

The Trump administration argued in its El Paso filing that plaintiff’s proposed injunction conflicts with the Supreme Court order.

Briones is not under any time limit to rule on the proposed injunction, according to Protect Democracy, the firm providing pro bono representation for the county and Border Network.

The Trump administration is currently erecting 46 miles of 30-foot steel fencing in southern New Mexico using DOD funding and has plans to build 509 miles of new border barrier before the end of 2020.

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© 2019 the El Paso Times