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Judge blocks Trump from using military funds for border wall

Judge blocks Trump from using military funds for border wall

A judge has blocked Donald Trump’s administration from spending $3.6bn (£2.7bn) of military funds on the president’s long-promised border fence. David Briones, a federal district judge in El Paso, Texas, issued a permanent injunction that prevents the administration from using money previously set aside for a string of military construction projects. It is a major

A judge has blocked Donald Trump’s administration from spending $3.6bn (£2.7bn) of military funds on the president’s long-promised border fence.

David Briones, a federal district judge in El Paso, Texas, issued a permanent injunction that prevents the administration from using money previously set aside for a string of military construction projects.

It is a major setback for Mr Trump, who has made building a barrier along the US-Mexico border a signature issue. The Justice Department said it would appeal the decision.

Mr Briones’ ruling is the latest twist in the long-running saga over a central plank of Mr Trump’s election platform.

At the end of last year Democrats in Congress declined to approve the amount of money the president wanted – $5.7bn (£4.3bn) – and allocated just $1.38bn (£1bn) to the wall in January following a bruising, 35-day government shutdown.

Then, Mr Trump declared in February that the situation along the US border with Mexico constituted a national emergency, opening the way for him to use money from sources other than those Congress had given him.

Defence secretary Mark Esper appropriated the $3.6bn of Pentagon funds in September, scuppering 127 military construction projects.

But in October, Mr Briones ruled the emergency proclamation unlawful because it went against the intent outlined by Congress in its January spending bill, putting a temporary hold on Mr Trump’s plans for the money.

That block was made permanent on Tuesday.

While he did not wish to minimise the important of border security, the judge said, “that concern cannot override the public’s interest in the executive branch complying with the law”.

Kristy Parker, a lawyer for the Protect Democracy group which represented plaintiffs in the case, said the order affirmed that “the president is not a king and that our courts are willing to check him when he oversteps his bounds”.

The Trump administration had intended to use the Pentagon funds for 11 projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The longest and most expensive by far would have extended 52 miles in the area of Laredo, Texas, at an estimated cost of $1.27bn.

Mr Briones’ ruling does not affect a further $2.5bn (£1.9bn) of defence department cash that the Supreme Court said Mr Trump could spend on the wall in a ruling in July.

Additional reporting by agencies

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