SACRAMENTO April 5, 2019 – California Governor Gavin Newsom and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a coalition of 20 states, filed a motion for preliminary injunction to block the Trump Administration from initiating an unlawful diversion of $1.6 billion in federal taxpayer funds to build an unauthorized border wall. The motion was filed in the Northern District of California as part of the coalition’s ongoing lawsuit California v. Trump, and challenges President Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional action to divert taxpayer funding and resources meant for law enforcement, drug interdiction, and military construction projects. The coalition argues in the motion that an injunction is necessary during the pendency of this lawsuit to prevent the Administration from commencing the harmful and illegal diversion of funds.
“President Trump’s cynical actions threaten our democratic institutions and core constitutional principles. We have a responsibility to stand up and say no,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Executive Branch’s power is not unlimited. Congress, which holds the power of the purse, has twice rejected this senseless notion of wasting billions of dollars on a Trump campaign proposal. President Trump’s unconstitutional maneuver to divert funding for his own political benefit violates the Constitution and places Americans and critical services they depend on at risk.”
“California stands united against President Trump’s money-grab to fund his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico,” said California Governor Newsom. “This funding should be spent as it was intended: to support local law enforcement agencies and to fight drug trafficking.”
In the motion, the coalition asserts that with his unlawful executive actions President Trump has disregarded the will of Congress and the separation of powers principles engrained in the U.S. Constitution. The Trump Administration is attempting to ultimately divert up to $6.7 billion in taxpayer funding from the Department of the Treasury’s Forfeiture Fund, the Department of Defense’s counterdrug account, and its military construction projects. Today’s motion directly challenges the imminent movement of $1.6 billion in federal funds from the Treasure Forfeiture Fund and the Department of Defense’s drug interdiction account. These unlawful actions pose significant harm to the states, which have relied on these funding accounts to support essential law enforcement operations and equipment, drug interdiction efforts, and critical military infrastructure projects throughout the country.
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In addition, any diversion of taxpayer funds and resources toward the unauthorized construction of a border wall will cause environmental harm to New Mexico and other border states. These potential harms are imminent and must be prevented during the pendency of the coalition’s lawsuit challenging the illegal diversion of taxpayer funds.
The coalition also argues that the Trump Administration’s actions to divert funding:
- Lack statutory authority because the federal government cannot satisfy the very criteria of the law it relies on to divert the funds;
- 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.
Attorney General Becerra has led the charge to stand up to President Trump’s illegal attempt to divert funding meant for and needed by the states. In February, on President’s Day, Attorney General Becerra and California Governor Gavin Newsom, leading a coalition of 16 states, filed this lawsuit to challenge the President’s declaration of a national emergency and his attempt to divert funding appropriated by Congress for other purposes. Just a month later, the coalition welcomed four additional states, bringing the group suing the Trump Administration to 20 states.
A copy of the filing is available here.