- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2019

The first lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., Friday evening challenging President Trump’s new emergency declaration to build his border wall.

Three Texas landowners and the Frontera Audubon Society in Texas asked a judge to halt any action Mr. Trump might take under the declaration, arguing that a fight with Congress over spending money doesn’t constitute an emergency under the 1970s-era National Emergencies Act.

The landowners say they’re in the path for future wall construction, while the Audubon Society says its members are bird-watchers who might see their favorite fowls chased out of the area by wall construction, impeding their ability to birdwatch.

The litigants said whatever justification Mr. Trump had for declaring an emergency disappeared earlier Friday when, in announcing his plans, the president said he could have waited and gotten the money over time from Congress.

“I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” the president said.

The lawsuit challenges both a $3.6 billion transfer of funds from military construction projects to the border wall and another $2.5 billion pot of money for Defense Department counter-drug efforts.

SEE ALSO: Trump declares national emergency on border, taking extra money for wall

Only the first of those required an emergency declaration, but the new lawsuit says both are illegal, in the first case because there is no emergency and in the second instance because they doubted border walls would “block drug smuggling.”

Most of the plaintiffs’ argument over the lack of an emergency rests on statistics suggesting illegal immigration across the southwest border is lower now than it was at its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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