A coyote walks along the secondary border fence near the constructed prototypes.
A coyote walks along the secondary border fence at the San Diego-Mexico border. Photo by Chris Stone

A San Diego-based group of immigration activists joined a lawsuit Tuesday against the federal government challenging President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aimed at funding a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Southern Border Communities Coalition, a group of 60 organizations from cities along the border, joined the Sierra Club and the American Civil Liberties Union in a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The suit alleges that the Trump administration overstepped its constitutional authority by circumventing congressional approval for wall funding. Congress approved a spending package last week including $1.375 billion for fencing improvements along the border, but it specifically forbade using the money for a concrete wall as the president has described it in the past.

With the national emergency, the Trump administration plans to divert federal military and counter-drug funding to begin building the wall. Trump will have access to roughly $8 billion in funding for the wall under the declaration, according to the New York Times.

“Trump’s abuse of power threatens to erode our democracy,” said SBCC Co-Chair and Alliance San Diego Executive Director Andrea Guerrero. “If the president is allowed to abuse his power to marshal military resources to build a wall that harms our communities and our environment, and bypass Congress to do it, this country will move one step closer to an authoritarian government.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday that he and 15 other state attorneys general are also suing the president over the national emergency declaration. The lawsuit argues that using military funding for the wall will hurt economic activity around the country as well as state-based counter-drug efforts. Becerra and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas also argued that the wall will harm environments and wildlife near the border.

Trump, when he made the emergency declaration, predicted that it would be challenged in court. On his Twitter account Tuesday, he chided the states taking the legal action.

“As I predicted, 16 states, led mostly by Open Border Democrats and the Radical Left, have filed a lawsuit in, of course, the 9th Circuit!” Trump wrote. “California, the state that has wasted billions of dollars on their out of control Fast Train, with no hope of completion, seems in charge! The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed wall!”

— City News Service