BREAKING: Lawsuit Promised if President Trump Makes Emergency Declaration

  • February 14, 2019

Protect Democracy and Niskanen Will Represent El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights in Suit Against President Trump Over Emergency Declaration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 14, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Protect Democracy and the Niskanen Center have prepared a lawsuit and will file it if President Trump issues a declaration of national emergency. There is no legal basis for issuing such a declaration and its issuance will injure specific parties and communities on the border, including the County of El Paso and the Border Network for Human Rights, whom we will represent in litigation if it becomes necessary.

Kristy Parker, Counsel for Protect Democracy and co-counsel for this pending litigation said:

“Throughout history, autocrats have used so-called emergency powers to seize control from democratic systems that don’t yield to their will. Often, they have invented fake crises for this purpose and we should all be extremely alarmed that President Trump has reached for this tool in the autocrat’s toolkit. Thankfully, our founders also knew that the seizing of legislative powers by the executive was, in the words of James Madison, ‘the very definition of tyranny’ and made it unlawful. It’s unlawful here and we look forward to the courts upholding our framers’ vision.”

Kristie De Peña, Director of Immigration and Senior Counsel for the Niskanen Center and co-counsel for the prospective lawsuit against President Trump, said: “America is governed by the rule of law and the separation of powers. President Trump’s threat to declare a national emergency would violate both of these. Our lawsuit would aim to stop the dangerous precedent this would establish for the presidency and the immediate harm it would inflict on communities along the border.”

Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights, said: “President Trump’s emergency is a manufactured crisis. In his anti-immigrant statements about border crossings, even President Trump himself has suggested that this is a political hammer rather than a real emergency. The Border Network for Human Rights has worked for years to cultivate the relationships for a safe community. We did not do this by building walls or by criminalizing and persecuting immigrants.”

Ricardo A. Samaniego, El Paso County Judge, said: “El Paso County is one of the safest communities in the United States. President Trump has already made many negative and false statements about our community in the attempt to justify his border wall. He has never reached out to the leadership of our community to determine if this is actually an emergency. This threatened emergency declaration will further damage El Paso County’s reputation and economy, and we are determined to stop this from happening.”

In early January, the President threatened to declare a national emergency if Congress did not allocate border wall funding. Today, the White House announced that it would declare a national emergency.

If the President follows through in using emergency powers to override the will of Congress, it would usurp the Constitutional authority granted to Congress to pass laws and appropriate government funds. It is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers and threatens our representative democracy.

The President’s declaration of an “emergency” at the Southern border that includes El Paso County, and the promised but unauthorized construction of additional miles of border walls and barriers will immediately harm the interests of the Border Network for Human Rights and the County of El Paso, Texas. The Border Network for Human Rights is an immigration reform and human rights advocacy organization with a membership of nearly 4000 people in border communities in West Texas and Southern New Mexico. The County of El Paso, Texas, with a population of more than 800,000, sits on the Rio Grande directly along the southern U.S. border.

Should the President issue a declaration of national emergency, more information about the litigation that would follow will be available at


Protect Democracy is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing American democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government.

The Niskanen Center is a nonpartisan think tank that works to promote an open society: a social order that is open to political, cultural, and social change; open to free inquiry; open to individual autonomy; open to the poor and marginalized; open to commerce and trade; open to people who may wish to come or go; open to different beliefs and cultures; open to the search for truth; and a government that protects these freedoms while advancing the cause of open societies around the world.


Aditi Juneja, Protect Democracy: [email protected] — (202) 308-0163