Keith Ellison

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison

Minnesota is joining a multi-state lawsuit to stop the Trump administration from diverting federal funds to build a wall along the United States southern border. 

President Donald Trump announced in his emergency declaration on Feb. 15 that he is diverting $8 billion from other areas of government to try and fund construction of the wall. Minnesota is one of 16 states to join the lawsuit. 

“President Trump, who has been unable to persuade Congress and the American people that a wall is necessary, is harming the people of Minnesota by forcing this constitutional crisis. I have joined this lawsuit because I cannot allow him to do that,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison.

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of California, asks the court to declare that the diversion of federal funds toward construction of a border wall is unconstitutional and/or unlawful because it violates the separation of powers, violates the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, which confers the power of the purse to Congress, exceeds Congressional authority conferred to the executive branch, and is beyond the legal powers of the executive branch. It asks the court to permanently order the Trump administration from constructing a border wall without a Congressional appropriation for that purpose, and to instruct the Trump administration it cannot divert federal funds to build a border wall. 

“The President’s emergency declaration would cause both short- and long-term harm to the people of Minnesota,” said Ellison. “This declaration – which the president himself said is unnecessary – hurts Minnesota by putting at risk the diversion of funds that Congress has legally appropriated to the Minnesota National Guard, which helps Minnesotans by responding to natural disasters, working with local law enforcement to interdict illegal drugs, and supporting local communities in every corner of our state. It is also a clear overreach of the power of the executive branch that hurts the people of Minnesota and every state by manufacturing a crisis – at a time when unauthorized border-crossings are at a 20-year low – that endangers the balance of powers at the root of our Constitution.” 

Ellison said the job of attorney general is to protect the people of Minnesota. 

“When the president or the federal government harms the people of Minnesota, I’ll use the power of my office to protect Minnesotans,” said Ellison. 

Minnesota and California were joined by Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia in this lawsuit. 

On Feb. 14 Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, which provides $1.375 billion for “construction of primary pedestrian fencing, including levee pedestrian fending, in the Rio Grande Valley Sector” of the U.S. – Mexico border. The act also imposes limitation on how the fencing may be constructed. That is the only funding that the 2019 Appropriations Act that Congress designated for the construction of a barrier. 

Statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show that unauthorized border crossings in 2018 are at a near 20-year low as 400,000 apprehensions were made in 2018, compared to 1,600,000 in 2000. From 2000 - 2017, the number of CBP agents increased by 111 percent nationwide and 94 percent along the southwest border. As a result, the average number of apprehensions per agent dropped by 91 percent from 2000 to 2017. 

A September 2017 report from the Department of Homeland Security concluded that the “southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.”

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