Coalition of 16 states sues Trump administration over emergency declaration

At least 16 states — led by California — have joined to sue the Trump administration over the U.S. president's declaration of a national emergency to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

'President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt,' says California A-G

A protester flashes a sign over a highway in Victorville, Calif., during a rally against U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration of national emergency to build a southern border wall. (James Quigg/The Daily Press/Associated Press)

At least 16 states — led by California — have joined to sue the Trump administration over the U.S. president's declaration of a national emergency to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Monday, after Trump invoked emergency powers on Friday.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a statement Monday saying the suit alleges the Trump administration's action violates the Constitution.

"President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt," Becerra said. "He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court."

Joining California in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia. All the states involved in the lawsuit have Democratic attorneys general.

A coalition of 16 states launched a lawsuit against the Trump administration over Trump's declaration of a national emergency as rallies organized by Move On were held in various cities. (Margo Reed/The Philadelphia Inquirer/Associated Press)

Trump's declaration will shift billions of dollars from military construction to the border. He made the move after Congress approved far less border security funding than Trump wanted for the wall, which the Republican considers a national security necessity.

His emergency proclamation calls the border "a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics."

Illegal border crossings have declined from a high of 1.6 million in 2000. But 50,000 families are now entering illegally each month, straining the U.S. asylum system and border facilities.

Trump's critics have argued he undercut his own rationale for the emergency declaration by saying he "didn't need to do this" but wanted to get the wall built faster than he otherwise could. In announcing the move, he said he anticipated the legal challenges.

Protesters also turned out Monday to voice their anger at the declaration. 

"Trump is the national emergency!" chanted a group of hundreds lined up Monday at the White House fence while Trump was in Florida. Some held up large letters spelling, "Stop power grab." In downtown Fort Worth, Texas, a small group carried signs with messages including "No wall! #FakeTrumpEmergency."

Protesters turned out in cities across the country including New York, Washington, and Philadelphia. (Go Nakamura/Reuters)

Organized by the liberal group MoveOn and others, Monday's demonstrations took the occasion of the Presidents Day holiday in the U.S. to assail Trump's proclamation as undemocratic and anti-immigrant.

Kelly Quirk, of the progressive group Soma Action, told a gathering of dozens in Newark, N.J., that "democracy demands" saying "no more" to Trump.

"There are plenty of real emergencies to invest our tax dollars in," said Quirk.

In New York City, hundreds of people at a Manhattan park chanted "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here" as several of them held up letters spelling, "IMPEACH."

There were some counter-protesters, including in Washington, where there was a brief scuffle in the crowd.

"President Trump declared a national emergency in order to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on his border wall obsession," Manar Waheed of the American Civil Liberties Union told protesters rallying in a Washington park before heading to the nearby White House fence. The ACLU has announced its intention to sue Trump over the issue.

Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the left-leaning Center for Popular Democracy, said the president had undertaken to "steal money that we desperately need to build a country of our dreams so that he can build a monument to racism along the border."

At one point during the rally, a counter-protester walked through the crowd toting a sign saying, "Finish the wall" on one side and "Protect the poor" on the other. Another man snatched his sign from him, sparking a short scuffle.

With files from CBC News