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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/Gubernatorial Authority
Special Collection Take Care
Case Summary
Throughout his campaign and presidency, Donald Trump advocated for the construction of a wall along the southern border of the United States. In 2018, President Trump requested that Congress appropriate $5.7 billion to build a steel border wall. Congress refused, and instead appropriated $1.375 ... read more >
Throughout his campaign and presidency, Donald Trump advocated for the construction of a wall along the southern border of the United States. In 2018, President Trump requested that Congress appropriate $5.7 billion to build a steel border wall. Congress refused, and instead appropriated $1.375 billion for 55 miles of wall. President Trump signed that appropriations bill, but also declared a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act, directing the Department of Defense to reallocate military funds in order to build the wall.

On the same day as the president’s national emergency declaration, this lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Several landowners in Starr County, Texas, with property on the United States–Mexico border, asserted that the construction of the wall through their property threatened “imminent invasion of their privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their land.” The Frontera Audubon Society, a non-profit Texas environmental organization, contended that the construction of the wall would destroy critical habitat and impair the ability of the Society’s members’ to observe wildlife. Their complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief against President Trump and his Secretary of Defense, and was assigned to Judge Trevor N. McFadden.

The plaintiffs alleged that President Trump’s declaration exceeded his constitutional and statutory authority, because the Constitution grants all appropriations authority to Congress. Through the National Emergencies Act, Congress had given some power to the executive to reallocate military funds in an emergency; the plaintiffs contended, however, that the Act was not intended to allow the president to circumvent Congress when Congress had explicitly refused to provide the funding that he was seeking. Additionally, the plaintiffs asserted that in light of government statistics indicating a significant decline in legal and illegal border crossings, there was no emergency at the southern border. Finally, the plaintiffs claimed that the National Emergencies Act allowed reallocation of funds only for military construction projects, and that the border wall did not fit into that category and was thus ineligible for reallocated funds.

In April 2019, the Trump administration submitted sworn declarations to the court, committing to use no reallocated funds for the section of border wall in dispute in this case, but rather to use only funds appropriated by Congress in its 2018 or 2019 appropriations bills. As a result, the plaintiffs dismissed their claims on April 22, 2019, and the court dismissed the case the next day.

Mackenzie Walz - 03/06/2019
Gregory Marsh - 07/10/2020


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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
Private Plaintiff
Defendant(s) Department of Defense
President Donald Trump
Plaintiff Description Three landowners and a non-profit environmental organization in Texas whose property or work interests would be harmed by the construction of a southern border wall.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 02/15/2019
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:19-cv-00404 (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2019
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]
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 8-2]
PR-DC-0013-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/02/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supplemental Declaration of Loren Flossman [ECF# 13-1]
PR-DC-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/12/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Dismissal [ECF# 16]
PR-DC-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/22/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
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-0013-0003 | PR-DC-0013-9000
Nelson, Scott Lawrence (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-0001 | PR-DC-0013-0003
Smullin, Rebecca (California) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-0001 | PR-DC-0013-0003
Zieve, Allison Marcy (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-0001 | PR-DC-0013-0003 | PR-DC-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Davis, Kathryn Celia (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-9000
Warden, Andrew Irwin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-9000
Other Lawyers Joseph, Lawrence J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0013-9000

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