University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Alvarez v. Trump PR-DC-0013
Docket / Court 1:19-cv-00404 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Presidential Authority
Special Collection Take Care
Case Summary
Throughout his campaign and presidency, Donald Trump has advocated for the construction of a wall along the southern border. In 2018, President Trump requested Congress appropriate 5.7 billion dollars for the construction of a steel border wall. Congress refused this request and, after weeks of ... read more >
Throughout his campaign and presidency, Donald Trump has advocated for the construction of a wall along the southern border. In 2018, President Trump requested Congress appropriate 5.7 billion dollars for the construction of a steel border wall. Congress refused this request and, after weeks of disagreement and negotiation, eventually agreed to appropriate 1.375 billion dollars for 55 miles of border fencing. On February 15, 2019, President Trump signed this appropriations bill, but also declared a national emergency at the southern border under the National Emergencies Act (NEA), directing the Department of Defense to reallocate funds for the construction of this border wall.

Several landowners in Starr County Texas possess property on the southern border and assert that the construction of this wall through their property “threatens imminent invasion of their privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their land.” Frontera Audubon Society, a non-profit environmental organization in Texas, contends the construction of the wall will impair their ability to observe wildlife and destroy critical habitats. In light of this harm, the landowners and non-profit organization filed a lawsuit in the District Court for the District of Columbia on the same day President Trump declared the national emergency. They brought this suit for declaratory and injunctive relief against President Donald Trump and Patrick Shanahan, the Acting Secretary of Defense, in their official capacities.

Essentially, the plaintiffs allege President Trump’s declaration exceeded his statutory and constitutional authority. Article I, Section I of the Constitution assigns the responsibility for appropriating funds to Congress. However, the President has the statutory authority to redirect the appropriation of funds in limited circumstances, one being under NEA during a time of national emergency. President Trump has declared a national emergency at the southern border as his basis for allocating funds to the construction of a border wall, which Congress refused to appropriate. The plaintiffs argue that, in light of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) statistics indicating a significant decline in legal and illegal border crossings, there is no emergency at the southern border. Since no emergency exists, the President had no authority to declare a national emergency under NEA. Therefore any subsequent reallocation of funds is without legal basis, violates statutory law, and contravenes the Constitution’s delegation of powers.

This case is ongoing.

Mackenzie Walz - 03/06/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration/Border
Border wall
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action
Defendant(s) Acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan
President Donald Trump
Plaintiff Description Three landowners and a non-profit environmental organization in Texas whose property or work interests will be harmed by the construction of the southern border wall.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:19-cv-00404 (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/21/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PR-DC-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/15/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges McFadden, Trevor Neil (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kirkpatrick, Michael T (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-0001 | PR-DC-0013-9000
Nelson, Scott Lawrence (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-0001
Smullin, Rebecca (California) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-0001
Zieve, Allison Marcy (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-0001 | PR-DC-0013-9000

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