February 18, 2019 | Office of Attorney General Keith Ellison

Press Release

Attorney General Ellison: “The President is harming the people of Minnesota... I cannot allow him to do that.”

Minnesota joins multistate lawsuit to stop Trump administration from illegally and unconstitutionally diverting federal funds to build border wall

February 18, 2019 (SAINT PAUL) — Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that Minnesota is joining a multistate lawsuit, led by the State of California, to enjoin the Trump administration from illegally and unconstitutionally diverting federal funds to build a wall along the United States southern border that President Trump announced in his emergency declaration on Friday, February 15. Minnesota is one of 16 states to join the lawsuit.

“President Trump, who has been unable to persuade Congress and the American people that a wall is necessary, is harming the people of Minnesota by forcing this constitutional crisis. I have joined this lawsuit because I cannot allow him to do that,” Attorney General Ellison said.

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of California, asks the court to declare that the diversion of federal funds toward construction of a border wall is unconstitutional and/or unlawful because it violates the separation of powers, violates the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution which confers the power of the purse to Congress, exceeds Congressional authority conferred to the executive branch, and is beyond the legal powers of the executive branch. It asks the court to permanently enjoin the Trump administration from constructing a border wall without a Congressional appropriation for that purpose, and to enjoin the Trump administration from diverting federal funds to build a border wall.

Attorney General Ellison continued, “The President’s emergency declaration would cause both short- and long-term harm to the people of Minnesota. This declaration — which the President himself said is unnecessary — hurts Minnesota by putting at risk the diversion of funds that Congress has legally appropriated to the Minnesota National Guard, which helps Minnesotans by responding to natural disasters, working with local law enforcement to interdict illegal drugs, and supporting local communities in every corner of our state. It is also a clear overreach of the power of the executive branch that hurts the people of Minnesota and every state by manufacturing a crisis — at a time when unauthorized border-crossings are at a 20-year low — that endangers the balance of powers at the root of our Constitution.

“The job of Attorney General is to protect the people of Minnesota. When the President or the federal government harms the people of Minnesota, I’ll use the power of my office to protect Minnesotans,” Attorney General Ellison concluded.

Minnesota and California were joined by Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia in this lawsuit.


During the 115th Congress in 2017 and 2018, Congress repeatedly considered and declined to fund President Trump’s border wall. In late December 2018, President Trump declined to approve Senate and House appropriations for border security, leading to the 35-day shutdown of several federal-government departments. The shutdown ended with no Congressional appropriation for a border wall. On February 14, 2019, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, which provides $1.375 billion for “construction of primary pedestrian fencing, including levee pedestrian fending, in the Rio Grande Valley Sector” of the U.S. – Mexico border. The Act also imposes limitation on how the fencing may be constructed. That is the only funding that the 2019 Appropriations Act that Congress designated for the construction of a barrier.

Statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show that unauthorized border crossings in 2018 are at a near 20-year low: 400,000 apprehensions were made in 2018, compared to 1,600,000 in 2000. From 2000–17, the number of CBP agents increased by 111 percent nationwide and 94 percent along the southwest border. As a result, the average number of apprehensions per agent dropped by 91 percent from 2000 to 2017.

A September 2017 report from the Department of Homeland Security concluded that the “southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.”