California Sues to Stop Border Wall Construction

September 21, 2017

The State of California has added its voice to the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall construction, filing suit yesterday against the Department of Homeland Security and its Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, the Customs and Border Protection agency and its acting commissioner, Kevin McAleenan.

Similar to complaints filed by the Biological Diversity and Sierra Club opposing the administration's plans for a cross-country wall to be constructed between the U.S. and Mexico, California's lawsuit takes issue with the administration's failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).

The California suit says former Secretary DHS John Kelly and Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke were not authorized to issue the waivers that would allow the wall to be built without meeting regulatory standards required by 34 federal agencies that protect U.S. interests ranging environmental and conservation assets to archeological resources and religious freedom. Thus, the waivers are invalid according to California and must be discarded.

The 55-page complaint includes the state's objection the wall section prototype project soon to begin in San Diego, citing 'the vague and indefinite nature of the e San Diego Waiver' regarding when, where, what, and how the prototype project will be managed.

Tuesday, September 19, the San Diego City Council approved an amended resolution in a 5-3 vote that would require the city to 'disclose' any financial or business dealers it may have with any companies involved with designing, building or financing of an enhanced wall. The original resolution sought to require the city to divest itself of any interest in wall-connected companies. The resolution allows the San Diego City Attorney, Independent Budget Analyst, and staff to put together a disclosure program for city contractors.

In an interesting twist

According to an AP report, Timothy Patterson, a supervising California deputy attorney general, said he expected the California, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club lawsuits to be consolidated under one federal judge, possibly Gonzalo Curiel because he was assigned the earliest one.

Trump criticized Curiel during the campaign for his handling of lawsuits against now-defunct Trump University, suggesting the judge's Mexican heritage carried a bias.