The Department of Justice asked a federal appeals court late Monday night for an emergency order to allow the Trump administration to begin constructing two sections of border wall in Arizona and Texas.
DOJ's filing challenges a preliminary injunction issued by an Oakland, Calif., judge last month, Politico reports. U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam, who ordered the injunction, argued at the time that the administration's plan to divert $2.5 billion from counter-narcotics operations to build the wall constituted an unauthorized expenditure of government funds, because it did not relate to an unforeseen emergency.
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If Judge Gilliam's injunction is enforced, the Department argued on Monday, the order would cause wall construction to be delayed through September and thus the end of the federal fiscal year, causing funding to lapse.
DOJ is thus calling on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the injunction.
"The injunction threatens to permanently deprive [the Department of Defense] of its authorization to use the funds at issue to complete the El Paso and Yuma projects, because the funding will likely lapse during the appeal's pendency," the filing reads.
The injunction was obtained following a petition by the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, both of which claimed that wall construction would harm their interests in using land along the border for other purposes. But in DOJ's view, these interests are not adequate to counter the benefits of building a wall to reducing the inflow of drugs.
"The court seriously mis-weighed the balance of harms," the filing reads. "Plaintiffs' interests in hiking, birdwatching, and fishing—in two drug-smuggling corridors with deteriorating existing barriers—do not come close to outweighing the harm from interfering with efforts to stop the flow of drugs entering the country."
The DOJ is seeking a ruling from the 9th Circuit—which has seen a spate of Trump appointees in recent months—by June 17. It claims that if there are still procedural barriers in place by the end of the month, it will be unable to complete construction before funding runs out in September.