By Jayla Marie McNeill/ Capital News Service
Virginia has joined a coalition of 15 other states to challenge President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency and to block the diversion of congressional funding to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
“Concocting a fake emergency to build a needless wall goes against the Constitution and the values America was built on,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement.
“President Trump’s ill-advised plan could divert critical funds from actual national security priorities, including military construction projects at bases and facilities throughout Virginia. We must stand up to this administration when it violates the law and attacks our values.”
According to Herring’s statement, the complaint was filed to block Trump’s “fabricated” national emergency declaration and the “unconstitutional” diversion of appropriated federal funding to pay for the construction of the border wall.
On Friday, Trump said he would declare a national emergency in order to bypass Congress to fund the construction of a wall along the southern border.
The White House released a statement stating that the president has “clear authority” to declare a national emergency and that Trump is taking “necessary steps” to “ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border.”
“We fight wars that are 6,000 miles away, wars that we should have never been in in many cases, but we don’t control our own border,” Trump said in his speech Friday at the White House. “So we are going to confront the national-security crisis on our southern border. And we are going to do it one way or the other.”
The administration estimated that the national emergency declaration will make over $8 billion in taxpayer funds available to build the border wall.
Other states participating in the lawsuit includes Hawaii, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and California.
The states contend that Trump’s emergency declaration is only a means to justify using federal funding to pay for his border wall.
“The states allege that the Trump Administration’s action exceeds the power of the executive office, violates the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes, and would illegally and unconstitutionally divert federal funds appropriated by Congress for other purposes,” Herring’s statement said.
“The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to block the emergency declaration, the construction of the wall, and any illegal diversion of congressionally-appropriated funds.”
According to the attorney general’s statement, Virginia could potentially lose over $130 million in military construction funding — money that is currently allocated for projects at Dam Neck, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Belvoir, Humphreys Engineer Center, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, and the Pentagon.
Trump said that he expected his contentious national emergency declaration to prompt lawsuits. He remains confident, however, that his decision will be upheld by the Supreme Court, similar to the way his 2017 travel ban was upheld by the court in a 5-4 decision.
“We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued,” Trump said. “Hopefully we will get a fair shake and win in the Supreme Court just like the ban.”