A federal appeals court ruled against the administration of United States President Donald Trump on Friday in his transfer of $ 2.5 billion of military construction projects to build sections of the United States border wall with Mexico, ruling who illegally evaded Congress, which decides how to use the funds.
The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a coalition of border states and environmental groups that argued that the money transfer was illegal and that building the wall would pose environmental threats.
The ruling was the latest twist in the legal battle that has largely followed Trump’s path. Last July, the Supreme Court allowed $ 2.5 billion to be spent as the litigation continued, mitigating the impact of the latest appeals court action.
The administration has already awarded much of the money, including a $ 1.3 billion job in Arizona that was announced last month.
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Trump visited Yuma, Arizona, on Tuesday to mark the completion of the 200-mile border wall during his administration, largely with the transferred military funds that the Ninth Circuit panel deemed illegal.
After the $ 2.5 billion transfer of military funds, the Pentagon diverted another $ 3.6 billion that an appeals court in New Orleans ruled in January that they could be spent.
The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Trump administration not only lacked the authority to authorize the transfer of funds, “but also violated an express constitutional ban designed to protect individual liberties.”
The vote was 2-1 with judges appointed by former President Bill Clinton in the majority and a dissident candidate for Trump.
The panel said the government was proceeding with the construction of the border wall without guaranteeing compliance with environmental regulations, thereby harming the interests of Sierra Club members who visit the border region for hiking, bird watching and other recreational activities.
The panel also held that the government did not demonstrate that construction would stop the flow of illegal drugs. He said the administration had cited drug statistics, but did not address how the wall would impact the problem.
“The fact that the executive branch does not demonstrate, in concrete terms, that the public interest favors a border wall is particularly significant given that Congress determined that the fence is a lower budget priority and Justice Department data points to a contrary conclusion, “wrote the majority. .
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led a coalition of attorneys general from 20 states that sued the administration, praised the court decision.
“Today, the court reminded the president, once again, that no one is above the law,” Becerra said in a statement.
“While the Trump administration steals public funds to build an unauthorized wall on the southern border, families across the country are struggling to pay their bills. They deserve to know that their hard-earned dollars go where Congress intended. to benefit them and their communities. “