Attorney (lawyer) at Public Citizen answers YOUR questions!


Hi, my name is Michael Kirkpatrick and I am an attorney (or lawyer) with Public Citizen. Public Citizen is a nonprofit organization that defends democracy, resists corporate power, and works to ensure that government serves the interests of ordinary people. My job involves using the courts to challenge government action (or inaction) that we believe is against the laws or the Constitution of the United States.

Q) Who gave Trump the idea to build the wall in the first place? From honorable_bilberry, Portobello High School

A) During his campaign for President, Mr. Trump promised that if he was elected he would build a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico. His campaign promise was popular with some people who fear immigrants, but most people thought that he would not be able to build a wall because Congress, not the President, gets to decide how the federal government’s money is spent. Someone on his staff (we don’t know exactly who) suggested that the President could spend money without the approval of Congress if he declared that there was an emergency at the border, and that is what he did.

Q) Why does he want to build a wall when he can use all the millions of dollars on something else? From introspective_potato, Skellefteå

A) President Trump wants to build a wall to fulfill a campaign promise because he knows the idea is popular among certain people who voted for him. He wants those people to vote for him again, so he wants to keep his promise. The money could be better spent, but building the wall has become a symbol for stopping immigration and some people in the United States think that too many people are coming here.

We think there is not really an emergency because the situation at the border has been the same for many years and building a wall will not solve anything.

Michael Kirkpatrick, Public Citizen

Q) Why would the Mexicans not tell their leader about Trump’s doings? (So that they could stop it) From powerful_shark, Boutcher C of E Primary School

A) The Mexican people and leaders know about Trump’s plan. They are opposed to the construction of a border wall, but the plan is to build the wall on the U.S. side of the border. Because the wall will not be in Mexico, Mexico can’t stop it. Trump originally said that he would have Mexico pay for the wall, but Mexico refused, so he declared an emergency to try to get the money to build it.

Q) Does he have the right to call the situation an emergency. And will his plan really go on? From impartial_panda_bear, Boutcher C of E Primary School

A) The President does have the right to declare an emergency and spend money to address a real emergency. But, we think the courts will stop the President from building the wall for two reasons. First, we think there is not really an emergency because the situation at the border has been the same for many years and building a wall will not solve anything. Second, our Constitution says that Congress gets to decide how to spend government money and Congress chose not to fund the construction of a wall.

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