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The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration to build his long-promised border wall and his ability to take taxpayer dollars from other budgets to pay for the construction.
“The president is using a bogus declaration of a nonexistent emergency to undermine our constitutional system of checks and balances,” Cecillia Wang, ACLU deputy legal director, said. “We’re filing suit 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.”
The civil rights group filed the suit in federal court in the Northern District of California. The Sierra Club, a California-based environmental group, is the organization's chief client in the lawsuit, along with residents and community organizations who live and work along the border.
This move comes after 16 states filed a similar lawsuit in the same court Monday challenging the president's emergency declaration. That suit was led by California and also includes Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.
The ACLU plans to argue that by issuing the emergency declaration to build the wall and use money from other federal agencies to build it, Trump is usurping the authority of Congress, which passed a bipartisan spending package last week that the president signed and that did not include funding for his proposed wall.
Trump said when announcing the emergency last week that he anticipated lawsuits, particularly in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from the Northern District of California and has frequently drawn his ire because of its rulings against several of the administration's policies.
"We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued," Trump said. "And they will sue us in the 9th Circuit, even though it shouldn't be there. And we'll possibly get a bad ruling, and then we'll get another bad ruling, and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court, and then hopefully we'll get a fair shake, and we'll win in the Supreme Court, just like the ban," a reference to his administration's ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, which the high court upheld last summer.