A U.S. District Court Judge has ruled in favor of the Trump administration, allowing them to begin construction of a wall along the southern border of the U.S., bypassing environmental statues for its construction. The lawsuit had been brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Coastal Commission, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
They were challenging the Trump administration’s right to build 14 miles of wall along the southern border in California.
In ruling in favor of the Trump administration, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel cited laws passed by Congress in 1996 and 2005, that give the Department of Homeland Security authority to issue waivers that expedite the construction of border barriers and infrastructure. The Trump administration can now waive environmental regulations to build.
DHS praised the ruling.
“Border security is paramount to stemming the flow of illegal immigration that contributes to rising violent crime and to the drug crisis, and undermines national security,” the department said in a statement. “Congress gave authority to the Department of Homeland Security to construct a border wall without delay to prevent illegal entry into the United States, and we are pleased DHS can continue this important work vital to our nation’s interests.”
Curiel, in his ruling, acknowledged the political implications of his decision but wrote they were not a part of his decision making.
“The court is aware that the subject of these lawsuits, border barriers, is currently the subject of heated political debate in and between the United States and the Republic of Mexico as to the need, efficacy and the source of funding for such barriers. In its review of this case, the Court cannot and does not consider whether underlying decisions to construct the border barriers are politically wise or prudent,” he wrote.
Curiel is not unfamiliar with litigation involving President Trump. He presided over a class-action lawsuit in 2016 in which several people sued the President for fraud over the now-defunct Trump University. Trump implied that Curiel could not be impartial in the case because of his Mexican heritage.
“Look, he’s proud of his heritage, okay? I’m building a wall,” Trump said of Curiel in 2016. “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”
Curiel was born in Indiana to parents of Mexican heritage.