The federal judge that President Donald Trump disparaged last summer as a “Mexican” who couldn’t judge cases against him fairly has given the commander-in-chief a big legal victory.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled in favor of the Trump Administration in several lawsuits challenging the environmental waivers granted for construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall by the Department of Homeland Security.
It’s one more step in Trump’s top campaign promise of building a “big, beautiful wall” along the Mexico border.
The Trump Administration praised the decision while touting the effectiveness of border walls in stopping drugs and illegal immigration, The New York Post reports.
“Simply put – walls work,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. “(DHS) looks forward to building the wall where our frontline operators say it is needed and in accordance with all applicable laws.”
Trump spent several weeks over last summer asserting the presiding judge in a case involving “Trump University,” a fake school that critics said was merely a diploma mill. Trump said Judge Gonzalo Curiel, was biased against him because he was a “Mexican.” Though born in Indiana and a U.S. citizen, Judge Curiel has Mexican ancestry.
“I think it has to do with perhaps the fact that I’m very, very strong on the border,” Trump said in a February Fox News interview concerning Curiel. “Now, he is Hispanic, I believe. He is a very hostile judge to me.”
It has been a signature campaign pledge of Trump to build a wall and this week, he is look at prototypes in San Diego. He has also said Mexico would pay for the wall, though there has been no indication Mexico is willing to pony up.
In the ruling, Curiel admitted that the wall 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.”
But the judge said the court “cannot and does not consider whether underlying decisions to construct the border barriers are politically wise or prudent.”
the ruling is a win for the administration as it seeks to get money to build its wall, a centerpiece of Trump’s campaign. The President hailed the “big legal win” late Tuesday, tweeting that the “important project can go forward.”
Big legal win today. U.S. judge sided with the Trump Administration and rejected the attempt to stop the government from building a great Border Wall on the Southern Border. Now this important project can go forward!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
CNN reports that the ruling left little doubt that the Department of Homeland Security has broad authority to issue waivers — authorized in a cluster of laws passed by Congress in the mid 1990s to 2000s — to expedite the construction of border barriers and infrastructure. His lengthy ruling went point-by-point through the challenges to DHS’ authority brought by environmental groups and the state of California and rejected all of them.
Pro-immigration and civil liberties groups, environmental groups have opposed the construction of Trump’s border wall on the grounds that it would disturb sensitive wildlife and ecosystems.
The Justice Department 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,” said spokesman Devin O’Malley. “We are pleased DHS can continue this important work vital to our nation’s interests.”
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