With Trump at bor­der, Cal­i­for­nia seeks to block his plan to fund wall

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY HAN­NAH WI­LEY AND SOPHIA BOLLAG hwi­[email protected]

While Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump vis­ited the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia town of Calexico to rally sup­port for bor­der se­cu­rity, Gov. Gavin New­som and Cal­i­for­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra moved Fri­day to block the pres­i­dent from di­vert­ing funds to build a bor­der wall.

The two Cal­i­for­nia lead­ers asked a judge in the North­ern District of Cal­i­for­nia to pro­hibit the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion from redi­rect­ing $1.6 bil­lion in fed­eral funds to fi­nance what the at­tor­ney gen­eral said “was never meant to be used for a bor­der wall.”

Be­cerra’s re­quest for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion is part of a law­suit the state filed in Fe­bru­ary chal­leng­ing Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion of a na­tional emer­gency at the Mex­ico bor­der. Be­cerra’s mo­tion is sched­uled for a hear­ing in May.

The emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion al­lows the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­di­rect $6.7 bil­lion in fed­eral funds from the Trea­sury and De­fense de­part­ments to build more bar­ri­ers on the Mex­ico bor­der. Congress de­nied the pres­i­dent fund­ing for the project.

“Congress holds the power of the purse, yet Pres­i­dent Trump’s at­tempt to buck Congress to build his wall with­out fund­ing ap­proval is a threat to our Demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions,” Be­cerra said at a press con­fer­ence.

Mean­while, at the bor­der on Fri­day, Trump char­ac­ter­ized the fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem as over­whelmed by a re­cent surge of peo­ple from Cen­tral Amer­ica at­tempt­ing to en­ter the U.S. and seek­ing asy­lum.

“The sys­tem is full,” Trump said. “Can’t take you any­more. Whether it’s asy­lum. Whether it’s any­thing you want. It’s il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Can’t take you any­more.”

He was joined by Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can Reps. Kevin McCarthy of Bak­ers­field and Tom McClin­tock of Elk Grove. Fresno County Sher­iff Mar­garet Mims also par­tic­i­pated in a bor­der se­cu­rity round­table with

the pres­i­dent.

“An un­con­trolled bor­der di­rectly af­fects our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,” Mims said.

The Bor­der Pa­trol has ap­pre­hended 136,150 mi­grants on the Mex­ico bor­der since Oc­to­ber, up from 33,100 over a com­pa­ra­ble pe­riod last year, ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

As Trump departed Wash­ing­ton on his way to the Cal­i­for­nia bor­der, he told re­porters that “they should get rid of the whole asy­lum sys­tem” and “get rid of judges” in im­mi­gra­tion cases.

“We can’t have a court case,” he said, “ev­ery time some­body steps their foot on the ground.”

That drew a sharp re­sponse from New­som, who said Amer­ica has long been “a safe haven for peo­ple flee­ing tyranny, op­pres­sion and vi­o­lence. His words show a to­tal dis­re­gard of the Con­sti­tu­tion, our jus­tice sys­tem, and what it means to be an Amer­i­can.”

Cal­i­for­nia’s lat­est at­tempt to block Trump from by­pass­ing Congress to build new bor­der bar­ri­ers comes as New­som pre­pares to travel to El Sal­vador this week­end for his first in­ter­na­tional trip as gov­er­nor.

New­som says he in­tends to learn about what drives peo­ple to mi­grate from Cen­tral Amer­ica to the United States and how Cal­i­for­nia can help with prob­lems fac­ing El Sal­vador, where a vast ma­jor­ity of mi­grants flee­ing north to claim asy­lum in the U.S. come from.

The trip is part of New­som’s ef­fort to con­trast him­self with Trump, who wants to crack down on im­mi­gra­tion over the coun­try’s bor­der with Mex­ico. New­som has blasted Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion views and ad­vanced state poli­cies aimed at help­ing mi­grants. One of the first bills he signed as gov­er­nor al­lo­cated money to aid asy­lum seek­ers.

Trump’s emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion al­lows him to use funds for bor­der wall con­struc­tion that had orig­i­nally been al­lo­cated for mil­i­tary con­struc­tion and anti-drug traf­fick­ing ef­forts.

Be­cerra ar­gued that Trump’s ac­tions vi­o­late the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion be­cause they “usurp Congress’ ap­pro­pri­a­tion pow­ers,” ig­nore the Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy Act and lack statu­tory au­thor­ity on the grounds that the govern­ment can­not ad­e­quately jus­tify the di­ver­sion of money.

“Any cri­sis at the bor­der is of Pres­i­dent Trump’s own mak­ing,” Be­cerra said. “Whether out of ig­no­rance, cru­elty, or a de­lib­er­ate and self-ful­fill­ing agenda, Trump’s poli­cies ex­ac­er­bate any is­sues at our bor­der. Since tak­ing of­fice, he has cre­ated chaos for im­mi­grants seek­ing safety and se­cu­rity.”

Just a day af­ter re­treat­ing from his threat to shut down the en­tire bor­der with Mex­ico, Trump ac­cepted a plaque from bor­der agents and sher­iffs in front of a 30-foot-tall sec­tion of bor­der wall two hours east of San Diego – the phys­i­cal em­bod­i­ment of his im­mi­gra­tion agenda – and met with bor­der of­fi­cials, law­mak­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials at the Bor­der Pa­trol sta­tion.

“We’re re­ally mak­ing progress at let­ting peo­ple know this is an emer­gency,” the pres­i­dent said in Calexico. “It’s a colos­sal surge and it’s over­whelm­ing our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem and we can’t let that hap­pen.”

Trump hailed what he called the “tremen­dous im­pact” of the wall in Calexico and said that his ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­pected to build 400 miles’ worth of wall in the next two years. The plaque he was given called it “the first sec­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump’s bor­der wall.”

In fact, the small sec­tion of wall that Trump stood in front of – next to a field of so­lar pan­els – is not ev­i­dence that the pres­i­dent is build­ing the wall he re­peat­edly called for dur­ing his 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign but merely an up­grade to an ex­ist­ing sec­tion of fenc­ing. The 2-mile sec­tion was com­pleted in Oc­to­ber and ap­proved dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“It’s bet­ter, faster and less ex­pen­sive,” he said as he stood be­fore a slat­ted 30-foot-high fence.

He told re­porters that New­som is “liv­ing in a dif­fer­ent world … a dan­ger­ous world” and he ac­cused the gov­er­nor of cre­at­ing “lots of prob­lems for the peo­ple of Cal­i­for­nia.”

A re­sponse from the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee as­sailed the pres­i­dent’s visit as noth­ing more than a photo op­por­tu­nity, “to try and build nonex­is­tent sup­port for his un­nec­es­sary and in­ef­fec­tive bor­der wall.”

“In­stead of do­ing any­thing to ad­dress the is­sues that mat­ter most to the peo­ple of Calexico, Trump is ac­tu­ally mak­ing things worse,” the DNC said.

In his first pres­i­den­tial visit to Cal­i­for­nia last March, Trump viewed a set of eight bor­der wall prototypes, each of which cost be­tween $300,000 and $500,000.

Rather than build­ing any of the solid, con­crete wall struc­tures Trump of­ten de­scribed dur­ing the cam­paign, the ad­min­is­tra­tion so far has used fenc­ing to re­place older bar­ri­ers, much as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion did.

PHO­TOS BY JACQUELYN MARTIN AP

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­ceives a gift from Glo­ria Chavez with U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion dur­ing a round­table on im­mi­gra­tion and bor­der se­cu­rity at the U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol Calexico Sta­tion in Calexico on Fri­day.

Peo­ple line the road in El Cen­tro on Fri­day as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump heads to the bor­der with Mex­ico.

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