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Attorney General William Tong



20 states file motion for preliminary injunction to safeguard the environment and preserve law enforcement funding

Attorney General William Tong joined a coalition of 20 states led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today in filing a motion to block the Trump Administration's attempt to unlawfully divert $1.6 billion in federal funds to build a border wall.

The motion was filed in the Northern District of California as part of the coalition’s ongoing lawsuit challenging President Trump’s unconstitutional action to divert funding and resources meant for law enforcement, drug interdiction and military construction projects.

The coalition requests the court immediately stop the Trump Administration from diverting $1.6 billion in funding that Congress intended for state and local law enforcement agencies. Through their motion, the states also seek to protect environmental resources that would be imminently harmed by the construction of a border wall on the southern border in New Mexico.

In February, Congress denied President Trump's request for diverting federal funds to pay for the construction of the border wall when the House of Representatives voted to overturn his national emergency declaration.

"President Trump's fake national emergency declaration is nothing short of an illegal power grab designed to launch an end-run around Congress to fulfill a campaign promise driven by prejudice and hate. There is no national emergency," said Attorney General William Tong. "Our motion outlines specific harm to Connecticut – including hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for Connecticut law enforcement through the Treasury Forfeiture Fund. Connecticut stands ready to do what is necessary to protect our state, our interests, and the rule of law."

For the last five years, state and local law enforcement agencies in Connecticut have received equitable sharing resources both in currency and property from the federal Treasury Forfeiture Fund (TFF). Those resources are an important part of supporting effective law enforcement activities in Connecticut and keeping the state's communities safe and secure.

Connecticut-based law enforcement received $1.1 million in TFF resources in fiscal year 2018. The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), which oversees the Connecticut State Police, received $335,514 in funds from TFF which has helped support key aspects of the agency's work that is critical to protecting the public.

In the motion, the coalition asserts that with his unlawful executive actions President Trump has disregarded the will of Congress and separation of powers principles engrained in the U.S. Constitution.

The Trump Administration is attempting to ultimately divert up to $6.7 billion in funding through the Department of Treasury’s Forfeiture Fund, the Department of Defense’s counterdrug account, and military construction projects through its declaration of an emergency. These unlawful actions pose significant harm to the states that have relied on Treasury Forfeiture Funds to purchase needed law enforcement equipment, staffing, and support of ongoing operations.

In addition, any diversion of funds and resources toward the construction of a border wall will cause environmental harm to New Mexico and other border states.

The coalition also argues that the Trump Administration’s actions to divert funding:

  • Lack statutory authority because the federal government cannot satisfy the requisite criteria for diversion of the funds and resources;

  • Violate the U.S. Constitution’s bedrock separation of powers principles by attempting to usurp Congress’ appropriation powers;

  • Disregard the National Environmental Policy Act by proceeding with construction plans in New Mexico without preparing the required environmental impact statement; and

  • Pose imminent environmental harm to environmentally sensitive areas on the border of New Mexico where construction of the border wall is imminent.
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