New York’s Letitia James. Photos: Attorney General’s website and Facebook.
Twenty State Attorneys General, including New York’s Letitia James and led by California Xavier Becerra have filed a motion to block the Trump Administration’s attempt to unlawfully divert $1.6 billion in federal funds to build a border wall.
The motion was filed in the Northern District of California as part of the coalition’s ongoing lawsuit challenging President Trump’s unconstitutional action to divert funding and resources meant for law enforcement, drug interdiction, and military construction projects. The coalition asks the court to immediately stop the Trump Administration from diverting $1.6 billion in funding that Congress intended for state and local law enforcement agencies. Through their motion, the states also seek to protect environmental resources that they argue would be imminently harmed by the construction of a border wall on the southern border in New Mexico.
“Diverting funds from key initiatives in order to fund an unnecessary and unwarranted wall is fundamentally irresponsible, undermines Congressional power, and will hurt every American across this nation,” James, New York’s attorney general said. “We will continue to work with other states in order to prevent this blatant abuse of power.”
In the motion, the coalition says with his unlawful executive actions Trump has disregarded the will of Congress and separation of powers principles engrained in the U.S. Constitution. The Trump Administration is attempting to ultimately divert up to $6.7 billion in funding through the Department of Treasury’s Forfeiture Fund, the Department of Defense’s counterdrug account, and military construction projects through its declaration of an emergency. These unlawful actions pose significant harm to the states, who have relied on Treasury Forfeiture Funds to purchase needed law enforcement equipment, staffing, and support of ongoing operations. In addition, any diversion of funds and resources toward the construction of a border wall will cause environmental harm to New Mexico and other border states.
The coalition also argues that the Trump Administration’s actions to divert funding: Lack statutory authority because the federal government cannot satisfy the criteria it relies on for diversion of the funds and resources; Violate the U.S. Constitution’s bedrock separation of powers principles by attempting to usurp Congress’s appropriation powers; Disregard the National Environmental Policy Act by proceeding with construction plans in New Mexico without preparing the required environmental impact statement; and pose imminent environmental harm to environmentally sensitive areas on the border of New Mexico where construction of the border wall is imminent.