BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 20 state attorneys general in a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s unlawful declaration of a national emergency as pretext to redirect federal dollars toward building a wall on the Mexican border.
The amended complaint filed today by the California Attorney General’s Office alleges that the Trump Administration’s emergency declaration is unconstitutional and unlawful. The states ask the court to block the declaration, the unauthorized construction of a border wall, and the illegal diversion of federal dollars slated for drug interdiction and military projects.
“Declaring a national emergency to build a wall repeatedly rejected by Congress is an illegal power grab by President Trump and a violation of the constitutional separation of powers,” said AG Healey. “We have decided to join this lawsuit because the President’s declaration endangers critical law enforcement and military projects in Massachusetts that depend on federal funding.”
The states contend that the Trump Administration’s actions exceed the power of the executive office, violate the U.S. Constitution and federal law, and would illegally and unconstitutionally divert federal funds appropriated by Congress for other purposes such as drug interdiction, military construction, military personnel, and law enforcement initiatives. In Massachusetts, losing counterdrug activities funding would seriously hamper the state’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis, which continues to harm Massachusetts residents and public health.
Funds put at risk by the President’s declaration include:
$965,000 that has not yet been received in fiscal year 2019 from the Department of Defense for counterdrug activities that would be used by the Massachusetts National Guard for investigative case analysis support, linguist services, transportation support, inter-agency training, and reconnaissance
$90 million appropriated by Congress for a new compound semiconductor facility and microelectronics integration facility at Hanscom Airforce Base’s Lincoln Laboratory.
$42.6 million appropriated by Congress for construction of a new hangar at Westover Airforce Base.
$8.9 million from the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2020 for a multi-purpose machine gun range for the Massachusetts National Guard.
Funding for the Massachusetts State Police and Massachusetts Port Authority from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund’s equitable sharing program, resources that supplement and enhance Massachusetts law enforcement agencies’ state-appropriated funding.
The attorneys general allege the Trump Administration has made up a “crisis” of unlawful southern border entries as pretext to justify redirecting congressionally-appropriated funds to pay to build a wall along the southern border after the President failed to get Congress or Mexico to pay for it.
According to Healey, the federal government’s own data does not support President Trump’s rhetoric, as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s data has shown that unlawful southern border entries are at their lowest point in 20 years and illegal drugs are more likely to come through official ports of entry. There is no credible evidence to suggest that a border wall would decrease crime rates, and the Trump Administration itself has claimed that it is more difficult to illegally cross the southern border today than ever before.
Joining today’s lawsuit are the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.