Federal appeals court approves diversion of military funds to border wall construction
The international border wall between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. Photo by Sherry V. Smith/Shutterstock.com.
The Trump administration can now tap $3.6 billion in military construction funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
In its brief opinion, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans reversed a lower court ruling and noted that the U.S. Supreme Court already lifted a hold on a separate source of military funding that the administration wanted to use to pay for the border wall, NPR reports.
“The government is entitled to the same relief here,” the appeals court wrote.
President Donald Trump declared a national emergency along the southern border in February 2019, arguing that it permitted his administration to reallocate military construction funding for urgent projects, including the 450 miles of border wall he pledged to build by 2021, NPR reports.
The 5th Circuit decision will allow the Trump administration to build 175 miles of the border wall in parts of Arizona, California and Texas, according to the New York Times.
“This is a victory for the rule of law,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Thursday. “We are committed to keeping our borders secure, and we will finish the wall.”
Opponents of the border wall have called the rerouting of military construction funds an abuse of power, and Democrats have resisted fully funding the costly barrier, NPR reports. In the 2020 spending package approved in December, Congress maintained its funding at $1.3 billion.
Judge Randy Crane of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas also ruled Thursday that We Build the Wall, a group led by former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon, can move forward with building a private barrier along a three-mile stretch of the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County, Texas, the New York Times reports.
The National Butterfly Center, a nearby 100-acre nature preserve, sued the organization in December, alleging that the construction would harm the environment.
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