As has been widely reported, following the government shutdown, Congress approved appropriations for the remainder of FY 2019, with funding for border security measures, including $1.375 billion for additional border fencing. However, Congress did not fund the $5.7 billion that President Trump wanted for the “wall”. On February 15, 2019, the President signed the funding measure. Separately, he declared a “national emergency” on the southern border, and that he would move money appropriated by Congress for military construction and drug interdiction efforts, to have $8 billion for wall construction.
On February 18, 2019, California filed suit against the administration, joined by fifteen states, including Maine, challenging the President’s planned executive action as unconstitutional. The lawsuit requests a permanent injunction against diverting funding and constructing additional border wall without an appropriation for that purpose by Congress.
One paragraph in the complaint accurately summarizes the lack of “national emergency” at this moment in time at the southern border, notwithstanding the President’s declaration:
The federal government’s own data prove there is no national emergency at the southern border that warrants construction of a wall. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) data show that unlawful entries are near 45-year lows. The State Department recognizes there is a lack of credible evidence that terrorists are using the southern border to enter the United States. Federal data confirm that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than are native-born Americans. CBP data demonstrate that dangerous drugs are much more likely to be smuggled through, not between, official ports of entry—rendering a border wall ineffectual at preventing their entry into this country.
Maine is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, since the anticipated diversion of defense funding to border wall construction would harm Maine’s economy, as is true for the other state plaintiffs.
MeBIC has written previously about the current number of people trying to enter the U.S. at or between ports of entry being at lows consistent with the past eight years, and not seen since the 1970s, according to Customs and Border Protection’s own data. The Department of Homeland Security concluded in a September 2017 report that “the southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.”
Instead of a wall, the administration should be asking Congress to appropriate funding to add additional immigration judges to restore due process to those crossing the southern border seeking asylum, and provide a path to legal status to the more than 1,000,000 individuals who are part of our communities and our economy and are on the cusp of losing their DACA and TPS status.