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Protesters demand action from Congress to stop Trump emergency declaration

Activists gathered in Lansing, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ferndale to protest President Trump's national emergency declaration. Following months of clashes with Congress, and a 35-day partial government shutdown, the President declared a national emergency in order to access about $8 billion in funds to build a southern border wall. 

Protesters say the declaration is an abuse of executive power and that there is no real emergency. 

Adam Nash is one of the organizers of the Ann Arbor protest. He said, "We are having a national emergency, but the national emergency is Trump, Trump's power grab."

Speaking to a crowd of about one hundred in front of Ann Arbor's federal courthouse, Jessica Prozinski said, "This is a real page from a dictator's playbook. To declare a national emergency about something that is strictly political, because you couldn't get it through Congress is a very dangerous thing."

The White House has said that a national emergency declaration is necessary to stop drug trafficking. Congress approved $1.375 billion for border security. Using emergency powers, Trump will draw additional funds for wall construction from the Treasury Department's forfeiture fund ($601 million), the Defense Department's Support for Counterdrug Activities ($2.5 billion), and military construction funds ($3.6 billion). 

Use of military construction funds for the wall is facing pushback from some lawmakers. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) stated that he would favor using funds from the Army Corps of Engineers rather than military construction. That would put Michigan-critical projects potentially on the chopping block--including construction a new lock at the Soo Locks and a barrier to prevent migration of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced the Restrictions Against Illegitimate Declarations for Emergency Re-appropriations (RAIDER) Act of 2019 to try to stop the President from using Army Corps of Engineers funds for border wall construction.

California Attorney Genera Xavier Becerral announced plans to file a lawsuit blocking the emergency declaration, and New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut quickly announced they would join that lawsuit. The American Civil Liberties Union also said that it intends to file a lawsuit, and the non-profit watchdog group Public Citizen has already filed one on behalf of the Frontera Audubon Society and three landowners in South Texas who were told their land would be seized for a border wall. The suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Public Citizen says that Trump has exceeded his authority and asks the court to block his use of funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall.  

Catherine Shaffer joined Michigan Radio in 2014. She works in the newsroom and specializes in stories related to the life sciences, health, and technology. Catherine earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Michigan State University and a Master’s from University of Michigan. Prior to Michigan Radio, Catherine has worked as a freelance writer, mainly in focusing on biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry, since 2001. She is also an award-winning fiction writer. When not at work, Catherine enjoys being in the outdoors and practicing yoga.