As Trump signed the budget, ending the shutdown, he also declared a national emergency at the southern border that he said allowed him to secure “additional resources” to build the wall, including $8.1 billion from other sources. Included in that amount was $2.5 billion shifted from the Pentagon under a section of the Defense Department budget that allows the transfer of up to $4 billion for “unforeseen military requirements.” But that section, section 8005, also denies transfers “where the item for which funds are requested has been denied by Congress.” Critics said that’s what Congress had done on the border wall and that the administration could not legally transfer the funds.
EARLIER: “You have an obligation to protect sacred sites and sacred areas. You have failed”: Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr blasts Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney for letting Trump administration desecrate sacred places for wall along US border. pic.twitter.com/yrEzEgetBJ— indianz.com (@indianz) February 11, 2020
A federal district court agreed and blocked the transfer of funds in 2019, a decision that was upheld by the 9th Circuit. But the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that stay in July and ordered the circuit court to reconsider the case. The 9th Circuit did and came to the same conclusion Friday, finding that the fund transfers “were not authorized, and that plaintiffs have a course of action.” “These funds were appropriated for other purposes, and the transfer of funds amounted to ‘drawing funds from the Treasury without authorization by statute,'” said the decision by Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas. Thomas rejected the government’s argument that the transfer was needed to stop the flow of drugs across the border, noting that Congress and the Justice Department both said the wall was not the most effective way to accomplish that. “No matter how great the collateral benefits of building a border wall may be, the transfer of funds remains unlawful,” Thomas wrote. In his dissent, Collins argued that the funds transfer violated the regulations only if it exceeded the $4 billion limit, which it did not. While he agreed that the Sierra Club and SBCC had standing to sue, he said he would have reversed the district court’s decision and ordered it to rule in favor of the government. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, welcomed the court’s ruling in a statement Friday. “This court ruling reaffirms what we already knew: The Trump administration broke the law when it stole congressionally-appropriated funds from the Defense Department to build his ridiculous vanity wall,” Grijalva said. Gaubeca said her group is “trying to figure out what the best approach is” in their next steps on the border wall. But she said this is not the end of the fight. “No matter what, we’re not going to give up against this wall. We won’t stop until we see it torn down with the environment, wildlife and communities restored,” she said Monday. For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.
Local #Kumeyaay & allies prevented Border Patrol from igniting explosives for replacement border wall near Boulevard, CA. The explosives will disturb & desecrate Kumeyaay ancestral bones and artifacts in the area.#NoBorderWall pic.twitter.com/J6B5RF0s6F— Pedro Rios (@Pedroconsafos) June 29, 2020
Note: This story originally appeared on Cronkite News. It is published via a Creative Commons license. Cronkite News is produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.