District judge in El Paso hears new challenge to border-wall emergency declaration

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EL PASO, Texas (BorderReport.com) — The County of El Paso and the Border Network for Human Rights are suing, asking for an injunction against President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to build the border barrier, claiming it is unconstitutional.

Arguments lasted about an hour and a half Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Downtown El Paso. U.S. District Judge David Briones didn’t immediately rule on a request for a preliminary injunction.

BNHR and the county said since the president’s emergency declaration, it is harming the reputation and economy of El Paso.

The White House defense said harm to the community is speculative and there is no traceable evidence directly linking the proclamation to any harm in El Paso.

Attorneys representing El Paso hope the lawsuit will block the declaration because they said there is no emergency at the border.

“We had the opportunity today on behalf of this community to ask a federal judge, part of our three separate parts of government, to enforce the separation on powers, to enforce the law, to lift this declaration and to stop the president from doing things he was specifically told that he is not allowed to do,” said Kristy Parker, counsel with Protect Democracy.

Parker, who says Protect Democracy is bi-partisan, said the lawsuit makes broader arguments than the case presented to the Supreme Court.

The Justice Department argues Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to fund the wall cannot be reviewed by any judge. The department declined tocomment Thursday.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said if the federal judge doesn’t side with El Paso then it can file an appeal but it’ll be more difficult.

“Because when it goes to the fifth court of appeals, it’s going to get ten times tougher for El Paso and for us to do that. I hate to think from that perspective. I’m a very optimistic person but if it did happen as a community, we just have to keep finding legal avenues and the support from the legal community to do what’s right for our community,” said Samaniego.

White House defense told the district judge who was hearing the arguments that as of yet, no decision from this declaration has been made to build a barrier in El Paso County, and therefore it’s not clear how or if it’s impacting El Paso.

The judge said he’s taking both sides into consideration to make his decision. It’s unclear when that decision will be made.

Crews in Arizona and New Mexico are currently building sections of barriers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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