President Donald Trump’s promise of a border wall along the southern United States has been among the most prominent pieces of his first-term agenda.
In his latest legal victory on that front, a federal court ruled this week that the Trump administration can use military funds to pay for the construction of the wall.
“Prohibited the redirection of funds”
As The Hill reported, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found in a 2-1 decision in favor of the Border Network for Human Rights, a nonprofit group squaring off against El Paso County in Texas over the issue of border wall funding.
Last year, U.S. District Judge David Briones determined that $3.6 billion could not be diverted for that use from military budgets.
That ruling was overturned later in the year, though, when an appellate court determined that the plaintiffs did not have standing in the case and could not prove they were directly harmed by the move.
In a dissenting opinion from that decision, Judge James Dennis argued that the “2019 Consolidated Appropriation Act clearly prohibited the redirection of funds that underpins the border-wall.”
The most recent ruling from the 5th Circuit conflicts with an October decision by the 9th Circuit that determined then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf — along with “all persons acting under their direction” — were prohibited “from using military construction funds appropriated for other purposes to build a border wall.”
“Trump administration is scrambling”
On Oct. 19, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would take up the issue of border wall funding along with the Trump administration’s policy of requiring asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their cames are adjudicated.
Months earlier, five of the nine justices on the nation’s highest court refused to issue an injunction to stop the repurposing of $2.5 billion in military funds toward constructing the border wall.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court opted to permit the Trump administration to continue its asylum policy while the issue made its way through the appeals process.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden consistently argued against Trump’s border-wall policy, meaning new construction would likely grind to a halt if he is successful in being declared the next president.
An NPR report last month claimed that the “Trump administration is scrambling” in its effort to make as much progress along the U.S.-Mexico border as possible before Inauguration Day.