16 states sue Trump administration over border wall funds
WASHINGTON: A coalition of 16 US states led by California sued President Donald Trump's administration on Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to obtain funds for building a wall along the country's border with Mexico.
The lawsuit filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California came after Mr Trump invoked emergency powers last Friday, reacting to Congress declining to fulfil his request for US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) to help build the border wall.
The move aims to let him spend money appropriated by Congress for other purposes.
"Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power," California Attorney-General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
"We're suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states. For most of us, the Office of the Presidency is not a place for theatre," added Mr Becerra, a Democrat.
Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit against Mr Trump's move last Friday, saying it violates the Constitution and would infringe on their property rights.
The legal challenges could slow down Mr Trump's efforts to build the wall, which he says is needed to check illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
Nearly US$1.4 billion was allocated toward border fencing.
The emergency order would give Mr Trump another US$6.7 billion beyond what lawmakers authorised.
In TV interviews, Mr Becerra said the lawsuit would use Trump's own words against him as evidence there is no national emergency to declare.
Mr Trump had said he knew that he did not need to declare an emergency to build the wal.
"Presidents don't go in and claim declarations of emergency for the purposes of raiding accounts because they weren't able to get Congress to fund items," Mr Becerra said on MSNBC. - REUTERS