The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and ACLU of Northern California filed a federal lawsuit challenging President Trump’s diversion of military funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The president diverted the funds by illegally declaring a state of emergency. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. The lawsuit states that the president’s use of emergency powers was intended to bypass Congress, the governing body that controls the national budget. The president’s tactic is unprecedented, unconstitutional, and unauthorized under the statutes he cited for the emergency declaration. Our plaintiffs also assert that construction of the border wall, across public lands and private property from California to Texas, would irreparably damage the environment, endanger wildlife, and hurt border communities and landowners. 

As of 2020, the Supreme Court is allowing $2.5 billion from Department of Defense monies to fund border wall construction until the court decides whether to take the case. In light of this, the federal district court made the decision to pause its own order which restricted construction using $3.6 billion in military funding.

To view, download, and save legal documents associated with this case, please visit ACLU National.

Update 3/5/20: In March 2020, there will be a Ninth Circuit court hearing on the merits of the Department of Defense’s military construction projects. The district court found in the plaintiffs’ favor that such projects violated the Constitution and laws. 

Date filed

February 19, 2019


U.S. District Court, Northern District of California



Case number

19-cv-00892, 20-cv-1492