The American Civil Liberties Union is the latest group to take on President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border.
The ACLU joined the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition in a lawsuit challenging Trump’s declaration, filed on Tuesday in the Northern District of California.
In a statement, ACLU deputy legal director Cecillia Wang explained the move:
“The president is using a bogus declaration of a non-existent emergency to undermine our constitutional system of checks and balances, in the process deeply harming communities living and working at the border.”
“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,” she added.
ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero blasted the declaration as “a blatant abuse of power” in a Wednesday USA Today op-ed. Romero accuses the president of “violating the law, subverting the Constitution and hurting American communities,” in making his declaration.
“We all know what an emergency really is,” he wrote. “It’s when something unexpected and dangerous happens that requires an immediate response.”
But Romero points to Trump’s own admission of the lack of urgency behind the decision to explain why the situation at the border should not be considered an emergency, as many suspected when Trump first said it.
“I didn’t need to do this,” Trump explained from the Rose Garden last week before signing the declaration. “But I’d rather do it much faster.”
Watch the video below:
Likely to be used in future lawsuits: Trump on his national emergency declaration: "I didn't need to do this. But I'd rather do it much faster … I just want to get it done faster." Via CNN pic.twitter.com/HcPrQdhRJ9
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 15, 2019
In admitting that his desire in declaring the emergency was to build a wall “much faster,” Romero argues that Trump overstepped his powers:
But that’s not how our democratic system works. Congress considered his desire for $5.7 billion in wall funding — and rejected it, instead appropriating $1.375 billion for new border barriers. The president cannot now try to get his way by unilaterally taking money that Congress has already budgeted for other things.
Romero also explains that constructing the proposed wall through a national emergency would bypass environmental and public safety laws, against the interests of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition.
“Trump is seeking to thwart Congress’ will,” he added. “Now we are asking the courts to give Trump another lesson in how the Constitution works.”