Appeals Court Blocks Trump’s Border Wall in National Emergency Challenge


SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court today denied the government’s attempt to begin construction of President Trump’s border wall using funds unauthorized by Congress. The ruling upholds an earlier district court order that blocks the administration from building wall sections along the southern border in New Mexico and Arizona using illegally diverted military funds.

“Congress and now two courts  have said no border wall funds. For the sake of our democracy and border communities, it’s time the president come to terms with the fact that America rejected his xenophobic wall — and move on,” said Dror Ladin, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, who argued the case before the appeals court.

In upholding the district court’s ruling, the appeals court stated: “no congressional action permits Defendants to use those funds to construct border barriers,” and that the Administration’s  “attempt to reprogram and spend these funds therefore violates the Appropriations Clause and intrudes on Congress’s exclusive power of the purse.” The ruling comes in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) challenging the president’s abuse of emergency powers to secure border wall funds Congress denied.

“Today’s ruling protects our fundamental democratic processes, our communities, and our environment against this President's abuses of power,” said Gloria Smith, Managing Attorney at the Sierra Club. “We've seen the damage that the ever-expanding border wall has inflicted on communities and the environment for decades. Walls divide neighborhoods, worsen dangerous flooding, destroy lands and wildlife, and waste resources that should instead be used on the infrastructure border communities truly need.”

The ACLU, Sierra Club, and SBCC’s lawsuit argues the president is usurping Congress’s appropriations power and violating the clearly defined separation of powers inscribed in the Constitution. The border wall project — if carried out as directed under the president’s emergency proclamation — would cause irreparable harm to the environment and communities living at the border. The ruling does not block ongoing wall construction in South Texas using funds allocated by Congress.

“We are pleased to see the court uphold the foundation of our democracy by denying the Trump Administration’s appeal,” said Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC). “President Trump’s overreach in attempting to build deadly and wasteful walls in our region — walls that greatly diminish public safety and our quality of life, walls that threaten our diverse wildlife — will not stand, and we will continue to fight for the southern border region.”

The Sierra Club and SBCC have members who live in, protect, and treasure the lands that the Trump administration has targeted for the construction.


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit