Protect Democracy Launches

Today, Protect Democracy launched, a website dedicated to the stories of communities affected by President Trump’s illegal national emergency declaration to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Protect Democracy represents El Paso County, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Rights in a lawsuit contesting the legality and constitutionality of the emergency declaration. A hearing in the lawsuit will take place on Thursday, August 29 at 10:30am MT at the Albert Armendariz Senior U.S. Courthouse in El Paso, TX.

Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights, said: “Our lawsuit against President Trump’s national emergency declaration is about the Constitution and preserving our system of checks and balances, but it’s also about people. Everyday people have been harmed by this illegal emergency declaration—and by the way the President characterized our community to justify the declaration. With this website, we hope to recenter the conversation around the human beings at the center of this controversy, and how the President’s illegal action has affected the community. Unconstitutional behavior by our leaders inflicts real harm on real people.”

Ricardo A. Samaniego, El Paso County Judge and presiding official over county government, said: “Before President Trump announced his national emergency declaration along the Southern border, El Paso County was one of the safest communities in the United States. He never reached out to community leaders to determine if there was actually an emergency. Instead, he attacked our community as “dangerous” and “crime infested.” This emergency declaration–and the President’s rhetoric around it–have done tremendous damage to El Paso County’s people, reputation, and economy, and we believe the world should hear the stories of those who have been negatively affected.”

The website contains testimonials from members of the El Paso community, including Mr. Garcia, business leaders, and everyday citizens. It also provides photos and descriptions of the El Paso area rooted in facts and respect for the community, and lays out the other lawsuits that have been filed to challenge the President’s national emergency declaration. The site will be a resource for those interested in how the emergency declaration is playing out on the ground as litigation progresses.


Following the President’s national emergency declaration, Protect Democracy and a bipartisan legal team filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to block it from taking effect because the President’s actions violated our constitutional system of checks and balances. The complaint explains how the President, in response to Congress denying his desired funding for a border wall, usurped Congress’s constitutional authority to appropriate government funds and violated numerous provisions of federal law.

The complaint also explains how the President’s actions inflicted  injuries on the plaintiffs: El Paso County, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Rights—a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the participation of marginalized border communities to defend and promote human and civil rights.

In issuing his proclamation, the President admitted that the claim of an “emergency” at the border was disingenuous and that he “didn’t need to do [it].” This is inconsistent with his oath to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The President’s power grab also undermines the ability of communities, including the community of El Paso, to exercise self-government through their elected representatives.

This poses a profound danger to the American people and our constitutional democracy. As Protect Democracy advisers and authors of “How Democracies Die,” Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, warned in The New York Times, “National emergencies can threaten the constitutional balance even under democratically minded presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But they can be fatal under would-be autocrats . . . Crises present such great opportunities for concentrating power that would-be autocrats often manufacture them . . .  [T]hese developments should set off alarm bells. Our president is behaving like an autocrat.”

The bipartisan legal team came together on this case to defend the Constitution’s separation of powers and prevent the President from successfully usurping Congress’s constitutional power. The team includes former Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson, a top aide to President George H.W. Bush; Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, one of the nation’s leading constitutional law experts who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore; the Niskanen Center, a center-right policy think tank; and the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.

For more information, contact [email protected].