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Judge Rejects Border Wall Challenge

Thursday, March 1, 2018

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The U.S. government’s plan for a new wall along the country’s border with Mexico got a boost Tuesday (Feb. 27) when a judge from the U.S. District Court for Southern California ruled against the state of California and a number of environmental groups that were attempting to challenge the project.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled that the Department of Homeland Security was not overstepping its bounds by expediting border wall construction and waiving environmental rules in the process. The suit had threatened to stall work in Calexico, where a stretch of fence is being replaced, and to delay the larger border-wall project.

Border wall prototypes
Images: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Eight prototype wall segments were constructed in California last year; President Trump is expected to visit and see them in person this month.

Funding for the new wall has yet to be secured; President Donald J. Trump, for whom the border wall was a prominent campaign promise, has asked for $23 billion for border security in his proposed 2019 budget.

Trump is expected to travel to California this month and stop at the site of eight wall prototypes to view them in person, according to reports. He tweeted Wednesday that “sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW will not be built until the whole Wall is approved.” It is unclear what portions he was referring to, as the state was suing to prevent construction of the wall.

About the Suit

The suit—a combination of three filed against DHS over wall construction—centered on the idea that the agency had acted inappropriately in using a federal law that allows it to waive environmental reviews related to border projects. The plaintiffs claimed the law no longer applied; Curiel disagreed.

At least one party, the Center for Biological Diversity, has said it will appeal. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement that the state remains opposed to the wall in the face of the ruling.

“We will evaluate all of our options and are prepared to do what is necessary to protect our people, our values and our economy from federal overreach,” Becerra said. “A medieval wall along the U.S.-Mexico border simply does not belong in the 21st century.”

As part of the exploratory work leading up to the eventual construction of the wall—which is intended to cover most of the 2,000-mile border, though Trump has said that some areas may be secured only with fencing—contractors built eight prototype segments in southern California last year. According to reports, military and DHS special forces tested the segments over a period of more than a month, finding all eight to be within specification in terms of the time it would take to penetrate them.

Funding Questions

Funding for the wall has been an issue since the idea first came to light; Trump said during his 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, and later explained that he would compel the country to pay through negotiations over trade or money transfers from Mexican citizens living in the U.S.

A deal to fund $20 billion of border-wall construction in exchange for the extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was floated last month during budget negotiations but ultimately failed.


Tagged categories: concrete; Government; Government contracts; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

Comment from Gregory Stoner, (3/2/2018, 9:41 AM)

Until the Trump administration figures out how to have Mexico pay for the wall I think we have a stand off. So far all the ideas brought up will have the US paying for this wall that will not stop illegal immigration.

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