- A federal judge in the Western District of Texas has issued a permanent injunction blocking President Donald Trump's administration from using $3.6 billion of military funds for border wall construction. El Paso County, Texas, and Border Network for Human Rights filed the lawsuit in February, soon after the president declared a national emergency at the U.S. border with Mexico.
- In his Memorandum Opinion, Judge David Briones wrote that Trump's Feb. 15, 2019 declaration is unlawful to the extent that it authorized the president and agency heads to transfer military funds for border wall construction. The injunction does not apply to the $2.5 billion of counternarcotics money the administration plans to spend on border wall construction nor the $1.3 billion appropriated by Congress in the 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
- Briones wrote that his ruling would not conflict with the Supreme Court's decision earlier this year to lift an injunction issued by a judge in California's Ninth District preventing the transfer of the counternarcotics funds. The judge wrote that the Ninth District's injunction is based on whether the Department of Defense exceeded its authority in shifting the money.
Briones also wrote in his opinion that the plaintiffs "demonstrated irreparable harm, the inability of traditional remedies at law to rectify that harm and that the balance of the equities and public interest weigh in their favor."
The Trump administration will certainly appeal the court's decision just as it did after the Ninth Circuit issued its injunction against building wall segments in New Mexico, California and Arizona. The Supreme Court allowed wall construction to move forward pending the outcome of an appeal of the Ninth Circuit's decision.
On the same day as Briones' ruling came down, President Trump, during a campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania, said, "They’re fighting me on the wall, you have no idea. But we’re building it and it’s fine and we have the money coming in from the military." The president went on to say, "These people fought me and we’ve started winning in court."
Whether it comes to waiving environmental regulations in order to hasten progress on wall construction or issuing contracts, Trump's border wall project continues to court controversy, even when the private sector is providing the land and paying for construction.
Just last week, two Texas judges ordered private nonprofit group We Build the Wall to stop construction of a 3.5-mile segment near the National Butterfly Center in Hidalgo County, Texas. The Butterfly Center claims construction along the Rio Grande River could redirect water and damage its property. The US government, on behalf of the U.S. section of the International Boundary Water Commission (USIBWC), also filed suit to halt construction until it is able to review the wall plan and ensure that the project will not “create unacceptable deflection or obstruction of the floodplain.” In that case, a U.S. District judge granted the (USIBWC) a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against We Build the Wall and contractor Fisher Industries and Fisher Sand & Gravel.
The president previously has talked up Fisher as a wall contractor, leading Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, to request that the DOD Office of the Inspector General investigate a recent $400 million contract awarded to Fisher. Thompson asked the Inspector General to review the bidding process to ensure that the award complies with federal procurement laws.