- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2019

President Trump’s proclamation declaring a border wall emergency is illegal, a federal judge in Texas ruled Friday, throwing a new hurdle in front of the government’s plans to build hundreds of miles of new barriers.

Judge David Briones, a Clinton appointee to the court, said Congress took clear steps to try to limit how much border wall Mr. Trump could build using money appropriated in fiscal year 2019, and the president’s attempt to funnel Pentagon funds toward wall construction is illegal.

But he didn’t issue an immediate injunction, saying he wants to hear more briefing about how to craft such an order.

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“The president’s proclamation is unlawful,” he wrote.

He said Congress had every chance to ponder Mr. Trump’s request for more than $5 billion in border money for 2019, and it refused.

That left to the longest partial government shutdown in American history, ended only after the president relented and said he would sign a spending bill that included just $1.375 billion — far short of his goal.

Mr. Trump though, in signing the bill, also issued his proclamation triggering the National Emergency Act, which he said gave him powers to shift money around within the Defense Department.

He targeted more than $6 billion in Pentagon money, as well as about $600 million from a Treasury Department forfeiture fund, which he authorized to now be spent on wall building.

The judge invited both the government and the plaintiffs, led by the city of El Paso, Texas, to suggest what an injunction might look like.

He’ll have to grapple with thorny separation of powers questions.

The administration argued a federal judge had no power to personally constrain the president, the head of a separate branch of government.

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