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Federal judge blocks Trump plan to spend millions in military funds on border wall construction

Democrats call out Trump for lack of progress on border wall

National Border Patrol Council Brandon Judd on President Trump's border wall progress.

A federal judge in Texas has blocked the Trump administration from using $3.6 billion earmarked for the military to fund border wall construction.

District Court Judge David Briones, a Bill Clinton appointee, ruled in an El Paso court Tuesday that the money cannot be diverted to build 175 miles of steel barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The El Paso County and Border Network for Human Rights sued the administration in October, claiming President Trump overstepped his authority when he issued a national emergency declaration to get additional funds for the wall -- his signature 2016 campaign promise.

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Congress had already given him $1.375 billion for wall construction.

Briones ruled in October to temporarily halt the president's plan to use the Pentagon funds. His Tuesday ruling only applies to the $3.6 billion, not other money available to the administration, including funds from counter-drug operations.

In September, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed off on spending the $3.6 billion, provoking outcry from Democrats and immigration-rights advocates.

Kristy Parker, an attorney with the nonprofit group Protect Democracy who represented the plaintiffs, described Trump's declaration as a power grab.

"Today’s order affirms that the president is not a king and that our courts are willing to check him when he oversteps his bounds," Parker said in a statement. "This is a huge win for democracy and the rule of law.”

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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court paved the way for the administration to use $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds to replace existing fencing in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

The Trump administration is expected to appeal Tuesday's decision.

Louis Casiano Fox News

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