The US Supreme Court on Friday ruled that President Donald Trump can use USD 2.5 billion from the US Defense Department funds for the construction of a wall on the southern border with Mexico.
Trump reacted on this by tweeting “Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall”, which boosts his ability to fulfil a major campaign promise to construct the massive barrier. “Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law! (sic)”
Trump resorted to tapping funds from the Defense Department after failing to persuade Congress to appropriate more money for the wall in a standoff that led to a 35-day-long partial shutdown of the federal government.
Earlier this year, President Trump had declared a national emergency in a bid to bypass Congress and obtain funding for his signature project after the standoff led to the longest government shutdown in US history.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to block the emergency declaration and the Senate where Trump’s Republicans are in the majority followed suit, but the president vetoed the legislation and the White House announced plans to spend $8 billion on the wall.
A federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had issued a temporary injunction against using Defense Department funds for wall construction.
On Friday, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court decision with a 5-4 ruling, writing that the government had “made a sufficient showing at this stage” that the groups did not have the standing to challenge the allocation of funds, freeing up the money for the president’s use while litigation proceeds.
The $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds at play in the Supreme Court ruling were part of that repurposed money.
Trump made the construction of a wall to stem illegal immigration from Latin America which was central to his successful 2016 campaign for the presidency.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court victory was the second piece of good news for Trump who announced that a “landmark” asylum agreement had been reached with Guatemala which he claimed would classify the Central American nation as a “safe third country,” meaning that US-bound migrants who enter the country would be required to seek asylum there instead.
However, the US Department of Homeland Security said the term did not appear in the agreed text.