WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court has ruled that the Trump administration can divert $3.6 billion in military funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 on Wednesday to temporarily stay a lower court ruling out of Texas, according to multiple news reports.
Reuters reports the stay is pending an appeal by the Trump administration of the ruling by a federal judge that had prevented the transfer of funds.
The Associated Press reports that the spending affected by the court ruling is intended for 11 projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The longest and most expensive by far would span 52 miles (83 kilometers) in Laredo, Texas, at an estimated cost of $1.27 billion.
The White House is welcoming the ruling on spending for the border wall. The court has lifted an “illegitimate nationwide injunction,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham said on Thursday. “We will finish the wall,” she said in a statement.
El Paso County, Texas, and the Border Network for Human Rights have been challenging the funds transfer.
The panel noted that the U.S. Supreme Court had issued a stay in a similar case from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was the signature promise of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. Following last year's government shutdown, Trump declared immigration a national emergency and used that as justification for siphoning funds to the wall. Critics have said the move circumvented the "power of the purse" that belongs to Congress.