The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court for an emergency stay that would allow President Trump to move forward with construction of two key stretches of border wall in Arizona and Texas, reports Politico. DOJ said a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in Oakland threatens to derail the construction by delaying the projects past the end of the fiscal year in September. U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam said the plan to tap $1 billion in counter-drug funding for the border wall amounted to an unauthorized expenditure because it was not tied to an unforeseen emergency. Gilliam said Congress considered the administration’s requests for border barrier construction and appropriated $1.4 billion this year, far short of the $8.1 billion Trump wants to spend on the project by tapping various sources of funding. Trump declared a national emergency to unlock funding, but the emergency was not invoked over the money at stake in the phases of the border wall blocked by the judge.
The Justice Department motion appears to mock the concerns raised by the plaintiffs who obtained the court order, the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, that wall construction could interfere with other uses they make of lands along the border. “Plaintiffs’ interests in hiking, birdwatching, and fishing — in two drug-smuggling corridors with deteriorating existing barriers — do not come close to outweighing the harm from interfering with efforts to stop the flow of drugs entering the country,” attorneys wrote. Earlier Monday, a Washington, D.C. federal judge turned down a House of Representatives request for a preliminary injunction. The House’s arguments are similar to those in the other suit, but the judge said legislators have a variety of options, such as cutting off future funding.