The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has repeatedly challenged the Trump administration’s immigration policies, announced it would sue the government to stop the transfer of the military funds, after the administration declared it would redirect $3.8 billion from the Pentagon to the wall, The Hill reports.
The ACLU will challenge the additional transfers against the president as part of its lawsuit, Sierra Club v. Trump, filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition last February.
The suit is disputing the constitutionality of the president’s ability to redirect funding for the wall after Congress had rejected the money in the federal budget, calling it an abuse of his emergency powers.
“Multiple courts have ruled illegal Trump’s pillaging of military funds for his xenophobic border wall,” Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said. “Not one court has given his unlawful power grab the stamp of approval. We’ll be back in court to block these additional, unauthorized transfers.”
Congress received a notice Thursday saying the Defense Department is moving $3.8 billion from various weapons programs such as the F-35 fighter jet to pay for President Trump’s southern border wall, which the president has promised would be largely finished by the end of this year.
The notice said the money is going toward the “support of higher priority items” and is “required to provide support for counter-drug activities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”
Trump used the counternarcotics law, as well as another statute in U.S. code, which allows the Pentagon to divert military construction funds to pay for infrastructure needed by those forces.
“DHS has identified areas along the southern border of the United States that are being used by individuals, groups, and transnational criminal organizations as drug smuggling corridors, and determined that the construction of additional physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the United States border is necessary in order to impede and deny drug smuggling activities,” the notice says.
Last year, Trump bypassed Congress to take $6.1 billion from the Pentagon budget for the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border project. Legal opposition has hindered the efforts to build the wall by the end of the election year, with federal judges such as Haywood Gilliam Jr. saying the redirecting of funds was unconstitutional.
However the Supreme Court ruled in July that the administration could continue to use military funding to build the wall.