A federal judge blocked President Trump this week from building sections of his long-sought border wall with money secured under his declaration of a national emergency. US District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. on Friday immediately halted the administration's efforts to redirect military-designated funds for wall construction, per the AP. His order applies to two high-priority projects to replace 51 miles of fence in two areas on the Mexican border. Gilliam issued the ruling after hearing arguments last week in two cases. California and 19 other states brought one lawsuit; the Sierra Club and a coalition of communities along the border brought the other. His ruling was the first of several lawsuits against Trump's controversial decision to bypass the normal appropriations process to pay for his long-sought wall.
Gilliam, an appointee of President Obama, said the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on arguments that the president was wrongly ignoring Congress' wishes. "Congress's 'absolute' control over federal expenditure—even when that control may frustrate the desires of the executive branch regarding initiatives it views as important—is not a bug in our constitutional system. It is a feature of that system, and an essential one," he wrote in his 56-page opinion. The administration said Trump was protecting national security as unprecedented numbers of Central American asylum-seeking families arrive at the US border. Last week, Southwest Valley Constructors of Albuquerque, NM, won a $646 million award to replace 63 miles in the Border Patrol's Tucson, Ariz., sector. Barnard Construction Co. of Bozeman, Montana, won a $141.8 million contract to replace 5 miles in Yuma, and 15 miles in El Centro, Calif. (Read more President Trump stories.)