TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today joined California and 14 other states in suing over President Trump’s decision to fund a border wall by declaring a national emergency and annexing billions of federal dollars earmarked for military construction projects and law enforcement drug interdiction efforts.
“The real national emergency is a President who refuses to adhere to the rule of law,” said Attorney General Grewal. “In its effort to cater to a select few on the right, this Administration is trampling on our Constitution and circumventing the will of Congress. As the chief law enforcement officer for New Jersey, I have a duty to stand up for New Jersey’s residents – including our immigrant community – and so I’m joining states across the country in challenging this emergency declaration in court.”
“I am very concerned with President Trump’s decision to declare an emergency to build his ineffective and unnecessary wall. His decision to circumvent Congress is not only fiscally reckless, but constitutionally dubious," said Governor Phil Murphy.
Claiming that an influx of immigrants from Central America created a national security threat, President Trump Friday declared an emergency at the U.S. border with Mexico. In doing so, the President said he would forge ahead with plans for construction of a massive, multi-billion-dollar border wall that Congress refused to support.
As the Complaint lays out, the Administration will rely on its declaring of a national emergency to divert up to $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall effort. As the Complaint further describes, the Administration also plans to annex up to $2.5 billion from counter-narcotics programs and to draw another $601 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.
As the Complaint explains, the Administration’s actions violate the U.S. Constitution by funding a border wall for which Congress has refused to appropriate funding, and by using money that Congress specifically appropriated for other purposes.
At the same time, the Administration’s actions are ultra vires because the Administration failed to satisfy the strict criteria laid out in the National Emergencies Act for declaring an emergency and diverting funding.
Indeed, while past Presidents have invoked a national emergency declaration to expend money without Congressional approval, those actions have typically involved shifting military funds in the service of military goals – such as in 2001, when President George W. Bush declared an emergency in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
“President Trump admitted Friday that he didn’t have to issue this declaration, which is proof enough that this crisis is manufactured,” added Attorney General Grewal. “And the Administration is diverting billions of dollars away from projects where it really is sorely needed – including to improve military installations and support state and local anti-narcotics law enforcement efforts. Worst of all, the Administration is doing this in an effort to serve an ideological agenda and keep immigrants and asylum seekers out. New Jersey deserves better.”