Healey joins Trump emergency declaration challenge

Says president may divert federal funds slated for Mass.

ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY on Wednesday joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, saying the declaration jeopardizes significant federal funding for the state.

Healey joined a coalition of 20 state attorneys general by signing on to an amended complaint filed by the California Attorney General’s office.

“Declaring a national emergency to build a wall repeatedly rejected by Congress is an illegal power grab by President Trump and a violation of the constitutional separation of powers,” Healey said in a statement. She said the declaration endangers critical law enforcement and military projects in Massachusetts that depend on federal funding.

The Department of Justice did not comment on the lawsuit.

The states are asking for the court to block the declaration, which they claim is illegal and unconstitutional; to pause any unauthorized border wall construction; and to prevent diversion of money slated for drug interdiction and military projects to the wall.

Healey’s office said the money at stake includes $965,000 in federal money for Massachusetts National Guard counterdrug activities that has not yet been received in fiscal year 2019. Congressional appropriations of $90 million for a new tech facility at Hanscom Airforce Base’s Lincoln Laboratory and over $42 million for construction of a new hangar at Westover Airforce Base may also be in jeopardy.

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Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

Trump failed to secure enough funds from Congress to construct the proposed border wall, and signed emergency order paperwork in February to secure existing federal funds to build it. Trump is also requesting $8.6 billion for the wall in his 2020 budget proposal.

The complaint alleges Trump’s border wall is not needed because unlawful entries have been declining, falling from 851,000 in 2006 to 62,000 in 2016. But the Department of Homeland Security has published more recent numbers showing that 76,000 migrants crossed the country’s southern border illegally in February 2019 alone.