Washington, Feb 18 (IANS) The White House has defended President Donald Trumps declaration of a national emergency at the southern border with Mexico and sought to clarify his contradictory statements about its necessity, amid mounting legal challenges and objections from Congress.
Trump’s announcement last week, an attempt to circumvent Congress by redirecting taxpayer money to pay for 230 miles of barriers along the border, has led to lawsuits, reports The Washington Post.
On Sunday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he was working with officials from at least six other states and would be filing a suit against the White House “imminently”.
The national emergency declaration also triggered protests, with various groups promising to hold more throughout the country on Monday.
Meanwhile, in a Fox News interview on Sunday, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller insisted that the emergency was real, saying there was an “increasing number of people crossing” and “a huge increase in drug deaths”.
Lawmakers, including some Republicans, are divided as to whether the emergency declaration is legitimate.
Democrats are preparing a joint resolution to repeal the national emergency in coming weeks.
Even if Congress passes such a resolution, Trump would probably veto it, Miller said in the interview on Sunday.
“He’s going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed,” he said, insisting that by late 2020, “hundreds of miles” of new barriers will be built along the border.
Several civil groups have also initiated legal action, The Washington Post said.
Advocacy group Public Citizen filed a lawsuit seeking to block Trump’s declaration on behalf of three Texas landowners and an environmental group.
Another organisation, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, sued the Justice Department accusing it of failing to provide documents related to the President’s decision to declare a national emergency.
The Centre for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, filed suit saying the President has failed to identify a legal authority to take such an action.
The American Civil Liberties Union said it was preparing a lawsuit arguing that Trump cannot legally redirect taxpayer money during an “emergency” unless it is for military projects that support the armed forces.