NEW YORK (AP) — Protesters around the United States spent Presidents Day rallying against President Trump’s national emergency declaration as 16 states planned a lawsuit to block Trump’s latest ploy to fund his long-promised border wall.
“Trump is the national emergency!” chanted a group of hundreds lined up Monday at the White House fence while Trump was out of town in Florida. Some held up large letters spelling out “stop power grab.” In downtown Fort Worth, Texas, a small group carried signs with messages including “no wall! #FakeTrumpEmergency.”
California and 15 other states, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, filed a lawsuit Monday against Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a wall on the Mexican border. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a statement Monday saying the Trump administration’s action violates the Constitution.
In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis and Attorney General Phil Weiser, both Democrats, said in a statement that the wall project could divert tens of millions of dollars from military construction projects in their state.
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, decried the president’s actions at a peaceful rally attended by a few hundred people outside Los Angeles City Hall. Police kept the crowd separate from a handful of pro-Trump counter-protesters who waved flags and wore red “Make America Great Again” hats.
A large crowd gathered outside the Federal Building in San Francisco. One demonstrator carried a sign stating: “Step 1: Declare a national emergency. Step 2: Play golf. Step 3: Watch SNL.”
More than 100 protesters gathered in frigid weather at the state Capitol in Denver roared with approval when Weiser told them his office was joining the multistate lawsuit.
“There is zero real-world basis for the emergency declaration, and there will be no wall,” New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Organized by the liberal group MoveOn and others, Monday’s demonstrations took the occasion of the Presidents Day holiday to assail Trump’s proclamation as undemocratic and anti-immigrant.
Kelly Quirk, of the progressive group Soma Action, told a gathering of dozens in Newark, N.J., that “democracy demands” saying “no more” to Trump.
“There are plenty of real emergencies to invest our tax dollars in,” said Quirk.
In New York City, hundreds of people at a Manhattan park chanted “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” as several of them held up letters spelling out, “IMPEACH.”
There were some counter-protesters, including in Washington, where there was a brief scuffle in the crowd.
Trump’s declaration Friday would shift billions of dollars from military construction to the border. The move came after Congress did not approve as much money as Trump wanted for the wall, which he calls a national security necessity.
His emergency proclamation calls the border “a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics.”
Illegal border crossings have declined by 75 percent, from a high of 1.6 million in 2000. But 50,000 families are entering illegally each month, straining border facilities.
Trump’s critics say he undercut his own rationale for the emergency declaration by saying he “didn’t need to do this” but wanted to get the wall built faster. In announcing the move, he said he anticipated the legal challenges.
“President Trump declared a national emergency in order to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on his border wall obsession,” Manar Waheed of the American Civil Liberties Union told protesters rallying in a Washington park before heading to the nearby White House fence. The ACLU has announced its intention to sue Trump over the issue.
Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the left-leaning Center for Popular Democracy, said the president had undertaken to “steal money that we desperately need to build a country of our dreams so that he can build a monument to racism along the border.”
At one point during the rally, a counter-protester walked through the crowd toting a sign saying “finish the wall” on one side and “protect the poor” on the other. Another man snatched his sign from him, sparking a short scuffle.