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Trump's border wall 'emergency' faces first legal challenge

[SAN FRANCISCO] A nonprofit sued to block President Donald Trump from diverting some US$8 billion from the federal budget to pay for his promised border wall after declaring a national emergency.

Public Citizen, a consumer rights think tank, filed the complaint on behalf of a nature preserve and three landowners in southern Texas who have been told the government will seek to build sections of the wall on their property once funding becomes available.

The case is the first of what are expected to be many legal challenges to the president's authority to circumvent Congress as he seeks to fulfill a campaign promise to build a multibillion-dollar barricade along the US border with Mexico.

Citizen alleges that Trump's declaration isn't a response to an emergency, but instead reflects a 'long-running disagreement" between the president and Congress about whether to build a wall.

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Such a disagreement "does not constitute an emergency authorising unilateral executive action," according to the complaint filed Friday evening in Washington federal court.

In unscripted remarks Friday morning, Trump depicted the emergency declaration as ordinary but also said he expected it to be challenged in court. He predicted he'd eventually prevail, but conceded: "I didn't need to do this."

"I just want to get it done faster," he said of the wall.

State attorneys general in California, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and elsewhere are expected to bring more legal challenges. Congress is considering taking its own action against the president.

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