As politicians fought over President Trump's border wall, construction companies were waiting for the go-ahead to start building. They will have to wait a while longer after a federal judge blocked the plan.
Judge Hayward Gilliam Jr. halted construction projects along the border in New Mexico and Arizona. One company was in line to get $789 million to build 46 miles of border wall, but that is not going to happen for now. The judge said it appears the president over-stepped his authority when he diverted funds to build the wall. The president called him "another activist, Obama-appointed judge."
It was par for the course. Judges have blocked the president's wall, asylum orders, and travel ban. He has responded with attacks on the judiciary and appeals. The latest skirmish was temporary, and there were no real casualties.
Gilliam stopped the two highest-priority projects, but rejected the plaintiffs' request to stop all construction pending trial. California and 19 other states want to cut off funding they claim the president illegally diverted after Congress rejected his request for more money. "Congress's 'absolute' control over federal expenditures --even when that control may frustrate the desires of the Executive Branch regarding initiatives it views as important -- is not a bug in our constitutional system," the judge wrote. "It is a feature of that system, and an essential one."
Trump, who was in Japan, fired back almost as quickly. He tweeted that he will ask for an expedited appeal. "Another activist Obama appointed judge has just ruled against us on a section of the Southern Wall that is already under construction," he said. "This is a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking."
The case follows Trump's declaration that border crossings are a national emergency. That, in his campaign to build a wall, justified using Defense Department funds. According to reports, billions of dollars are at stake. Congress allocated $1.375 billion to extend or replace barriers along the busiest corridor for illegal crossings. Trump then proceeded to identify $8.1 billion more for wall construction. The funds include $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion from counter-drug activities, and $600 million from asset forfeitures.
California has led the way in fighting the administration over immigration, filing nearly 100 legal briefs and more than 45 lawsuits.