Donald Trump Scores Temporary Victory in Federal Court as Appeals Judges Lift Stay on Moving Money to the Pentagon for Mexico Border Barrier Construction
David Martosko and Reuters, Daily Mail, January 9, 2020
Donald Trump crowed on Thursday after a federal appeals court temporarily put on hold a lower court ruling that had blocked the administration from using billions of dollars in military construction funds to build his long-sought southern border wall.
It’s unclear how much of the wall has a clear timetable for construction. A large majority of what the Army Corps of Engineers and the Homeland Security Department have constructed is sections of barrier replacing inferior walls that were in place when Trump became president.
The court also said there was a ‘substantial likelihood’ that the parties challenging the funding transfer—the county of El Paso, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Rights activist group—lacked standing to sue the Trump administration.
Congress has approved funding for wall construction in recent years, but at levels below Trump administration requests.
Frustrated by Congress, Trump declared illegal immigration to be a national emergency in February 2019 as part of a plan to access billions of dollars in Pentagon and Treasury funds to build the wall.
Trump administration officials have pledged to build 450 miles of new and replacement barriers along the border by November 2020, when Trump will face re-election. But a number of obstacles, including legal challenges and resistance from private landowners, have threatened that objective.
Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said in December that the administration may fall short of the 450-mile mark.
Morgan specifically cited the federal court injunction blocking the $3.6 billion funding transfer as an obstacle to construction.
The Trump administration has erected 96 miles (155 km) of border wall since the president took office in January 2017, according to CBP statistics current to late December. All of those structures replaced existing barriers, but border wall construction in new areas is under way, the agency said.