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National Emergency Jeopardizes $6 Billion in Funding for States

The president's plan to build a border wall could cost the most for California, Hawaii and Maryland -- three of the 16 states suing to block the declaration.

President Trump reviewing border wall prototypes in San Diego in March. California stands to lose the most financially from Trump's emergency declaration.
(AP/Evan Vucci)


  • Collectively, the 50 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories have more than $6 billion in federal funding at stake due to President Trump's emergency declaration to build a border wall.
  • California, Hawaii and Maryland stand to lose the most funding.
  • Some of the border wall money will come from National Guard funding that is currently used to fight drug trafficking.
President Trump’s emergency declaration to build a border wall puts up to $6 billion in federal funding at risk for the states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories.

After failing to get the money from Congress and shutting down the government over the dispute, the administration declared a national immigration emergency so that it could cobble together the funds for the $8 billion wall from defense accounts that provide billions in military construction and National Guard funding to the states.

California, Hawaii and Maryland stand to lose the most financially. All three states are among the 16 suing the president over his emergency declaration, claiming he manufactured an immigration crisis.

California has an estimated $896 million in vulnerable federal military construction and National Guard funding, Maryland has more than $550 million and Hawaii has $362 million, according to an analysis by Governing. 

“If the president is essentially stealing money that's been allocated to go to the various states for various purposes but no longer will, we're being harmed, our people are being harmed,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra when he announced the lawsuit.

Taking money away from authorized military construction would not only harm national security, the lawsuit argues, but also cause damage to state economies because of the loss of jobs and spending.

Specifically, Trump is asserting his power to tap three pots of money for his border wall: $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund for law enforcement priorities, $2.5 billion from a military anti-drug account and $3.6 billion in military construction funds.

The National Guard’s Counterdrug Program, which provided about $200 million last year across 50 states, the territories and D.C., is funded through the Department of Defense’s anti-drug account. California, New York and Texas accounted for one-third of last year’s funding, according to the U.S. Government Accounting Office.

The program helps coordinate interagency efforts to combat drug trafficking. Last year, for instance, it helped law enforcement agencies confiscate nearly $11.2 billion of illicit drugs. National Guard analysts also contributed to the disruption or dismantlement of more than 4,500 drug trafficking groups and helped prevent more than 3.3 million pounds of illicit drugs from reaching American communities.

“States across the country benefit from the National Guard Counterdrug Program, which assists local law enforcement agencies and supports drug interdiction efforts,” says Mary Catherine Ott, legislative director of the National Governors Association Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. “It’s an example of a federal-state partnership that yields results that benefit Americans.”

In California, construction projects at Camp Pendleton and Naval Base Coronado account for more than $250 million in allocated funds that are now at risk. In Maryland, some of the vulnerable funding includes roughly $130 million allocated this year for a new hangar complex to house the president’s soon-to-be revamped Air Force One

The other states joining the lawsuit are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia. Together, they have more than $2.8 billion in vulnerable funding.


How Much Could the Border Wall Cost Your State?


(SOURCE: U.S. GAO report on National Guard Counterdrug Program; House Appropriations Committee
States not listed: Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Rhode Island, Tennessee, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, West Virginia & Wyoming account for $19,118,899 in addditional National Guard funding at risk.

Liz Farmer is a former GOVERNING fiscal policy writer.
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