Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A federal judge in California has ruled against the Trump administration's efforts to divert some $3.6 billion in funding for military construction projects to build permanent barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. of the Northern District of California ruled that Trump's allocation of the money intended for military construction projects to fund 11 border barrier projects was unlawful.
In his decision, Gilliam said the Trump administration had attempted to circumvent Congress, which had refused to fund the border barrier projects, by using military funds under the declaration of a national emergency to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gilliam said "the court cannot blind itself to the plain reality" that the border barrier projects the Trump administration claims are necessary to support the use of the armed forces "are the very same projects the Defendants sought -- and failed -- to build under the [Department of Homeland Security's] civilian authority because Congress would not appropriate the requested funds."
In February, immediately after signing a spending bill to avert a government shutdown that did not include all the money he was seeking to fund his border wall, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border that requires the use of the armed forces, making available its construction authority.
Congress has twice sought to terminate the national emergency but Trump vetoed their joint resolutions to due so both times and his national emergency remains in effect.
Gilliam also said in his decision that the Trump administration failed to prove the border barrier projects are necessary to support the armed forces.
"Promoting efficiency and efficacy is not tantamount to necessity, given the nature of the construction at issue. And the court declines Defendants' invitation to blur this distinction," Gilliam said. "There is simply nothing in the record before the court indicating that the 11 border barrier projects -- however helpful -- are necessary to support the use of the armed forces."
The decision was handed down on two cases against Trump: one filed by a nine-state coalition led by California and the other by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra celebrated the decision.
"This is a critical victory that sends a strong message to the White House: You are not above the law," he said in a statement.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Texas issued a permanent injunction to block the administration from diverting the $3.6 billion that would establish 175 miles of new or reconstructed wall along the southern border.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Wednesday that the Trump plans to appeal, calling the Texas decision "improper" and saying the injunction interferes with multiple, unrelated projects.