A lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s efforts to bypass environmental laws to erect a security wall along the U.S.- Mexico border was taken under submission Friday by a federal judge in San Diego.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the same Indiana-born judge that then-candidate Donald Trump accused of being biased and a “Mexican” during the Trump University lawsuit, heard more than two hours of argument from three separate parties — including the state of California — and a Trump Administration lawyer on the main environmental lawsuit against plans to build the wall.
California Supervising Deputy Attorney General Michael Cayaban disagreed with the Trump Administration’s position that the court did not have jurisdiction to decide the issue.
Curiel said he thought he did and asked for more briefing on the case. A decision is expected next week.
Brian Segee, an attorney representing the Center for Biological Diversity, said the government’s power to waive certain state laws was being used “unfairly.”
Segee said pulling up old border fencing creates waste and “California has a stake in protecting their resources,” including wildlife and ecosystems.
An attorney for the Trump Administration, Galen Thorp, told the court that it lacked jurisdiction on all constitutional challenges to the border wall project.
Curiel questioned if “consultations” with affected parties came before the project was approved by Congress or after.
Thorp said the plaintiffs have thrown in the “kitchen sink” of constitutional issues in their legal challenge.
Thorp told the judge that construction may begin Feb. 15 on some of the wall project in Calexico. Construction delays have pushed back any erecting of walls in San Diego to mid-June, Thorp said.
Before the hearing, about 30 demonstrators held signs outside the federal courthouse that read, “No Wall in the Wild” and “No Border Wall.”
“It’s cruel, inhumane, and an extremely expensive wall,” said J.P. Rose, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.
–City News Service