California Sues Trump Administration Over Border Wall Projects

Carla Harmon
September 21, 2017

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed suit in federal district court in San Diego, saying the government violated constitutional and environmental laws in moving to launch new wall projects on the state's southern end.

The San Diego City Council joined a chorus of other cities Tuesday in opposing President Donald Trump's border wall, though its resolution lost a provision - and much of its teeth - to divest from companies involved in its construction.

The lawsuit also says the Department of Homeland Security made a decision to build the walls without complying with the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. "The border between the US and Mexico spans some 2,000 miles". "The Department of Homeland Security would waive 37 federal statutes, as well as regulations that are related to those statutes, and he would also violate numerous state and local laws here in our great state of California".

The Trump administration last week waived environmental laws and other reviews to replace a small stretch of the border wall in Calexico, California, the second time it has exercised that authority in less than two months.

"DHS has injured and continues to injure California by failing to disclose and consider the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects that the Border Wall project will have on the resources of California", the lawsuit adds.

The lawsuit says Mexican residents made 7.9 million trips to California a year ago, calling it a "lead economic driver" for the state.

The Constitution does not permit government officials to unilaterally and arbitrarily waive any law of their choosing, including criminal laws and laws enacted by the States. It granted the waivers under a 2005 law aimed at speeding construction of barriers along the border.

The department argued the San Diego sector has a high level of drug smuggling and illegal immigration, and that "immediate" barrier construction was needed.

Despite legal challenges to the project, preliminary construction has already begun for some segments of the wall. "At the same time, they're trying to do something that only Congress can do".

In the deal last week with Democrats, Trump agreed not to demand funding for his border wall in exchange for signing the bill protecting the children of illegal immigrants, beneficiaries of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Program, which has suffered several legal setbacks in the courts. Additionally, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.) in April asked a district court judge in his state to require an updated environmental review of the wall's impact before the DHS waived the laws requiring such an analysis.

"There's a right way and a wrong way", Becerra said of the border wall's construction in a press conference.

"They're violating the Tenth Amendment and infringing on a lot of state laws, not just federal laws, that affect our state", he says.

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