RICHMOND (April 5, 2019)—Attorney General Mark R. Herring today filed a motion to block the Trump Administration’s attempt to unlawfully divert $1.6 billion in federal funds to build a border wall. The motion was filed in the Northern District of California as part of the ongoing lawsuit brought by a 20 state coalition challenging President Trump’s unconstitutional action to divert funding and resources meant for law enforcement, drug interdiction, and military construction projects. The coalition requests the court immediately stop the Trump Administration from diverting $1.6 billion in funding that Congress intended for state and local law enforcement agencies. Through their motion, the states also seek to protect environmental resources that would be imminently harmed by the construction of a border wall.
“President Trump is flagrantly disregarding the law in his quest to justify his fake national emergency and build a needless border wall,” said Attorney General Herring. “He is trying to unlawfully divert resources that law enforcement agencies in Virginia and around the country need for their actual work, and his larger plan could threaten half a billion dollars in military construction projects around Virginia.”
In the motion, the coalition asserts that President Trump has unlawfully disregarded the will of Congress and separation of powers principles engrained in the U.S. Constitution, and that his diversion of law enforcement funds poses significant harm to Virginia and other states that have relied on federal funds to purchase needed law enforcement equipment and support law enforcement operations.
The Trump Administration is attempting to ultimately divert up to $6.7 billion in funding through the Department of Treasury’s Forfeiture Fund, the Department of Defense’s counterdrug account, and military construction projects, which could have a particularly negative impact on Virginia. Although the Trump Administration has been light on details, it is believed thatVirginia could lose around $455 million in funds for military construction projects in the Commonwealth.
The coalition also argues that the Trump Administration’s actions to divert funding:
- Lack statutory authority because the federal government cannot satisfy the criteria it relies on for diversion of the funds and resources;
- Violate the U.S. Constitution’s bedrock separation of powers principles by attempting to usurp Congress’s appropriation powers;
- Disregard the National Environmental Policy Act by proceeding with construction plans in New Mexico without preparing the required environmental impact statement; and
- Pose imminent environmental harm to environmentally sensitive areas on the border of New Mexico where construction of the border wall is imminent.