Trump administration can waive environmental rules over border wall: US judge

ANI | Updated: Feb 28, 2018 04:55 IST

Washington [US], Feb 28 (ANI): A federal judge on Tuesday ruled the Trump administration has the authority to waive environmental rules to construct a border wall with Mexico.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel in his order acknowledged the wall was the "subject of heated political debate. as to the need, efficacy and the source of funding for such barriers", and the President's central campaign promise.

California and an array of environmental groups filed legal challenges last year to the administration's effort to expedite the wall's construction by circumventing a variety of statutes, with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra suggesting that Trump had sought to "ignore the law".

The judge said the ruling was on a politically freighted case and that he was not weighing in on whether "underlying decisions to construct the border barriers are politically wise or prudent", The Independent reported.

The order was all the more striking because Trump had disparaged Curiel's ability to be unbiased because of the American judge's Mexican heritage.

Trump during the presidential campaign called Curiel -- who was then overseeing class-action lawsuits against Trump University -- "very hostile" and repeatedly referred to the Indiana-raised judge's Hispanic roots.

"We are building a wall. He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico," Trump had said.

"This judge is giving us unfair rulings. Now, I say. 'Why?' Well, I'm building a wall, OK? And it's a wall between Mexico. Not another country."

The debate over the wall has continued to smoulder in Washington. The Trump administration had earlier this year requested 18 billion dollars for the structure's first phase, but the Congress has not yet allocated money to construct the border barrier.

The wall's fate has also become entangled in a broader immigration fight. Trump has sought to extract a deal for more border security funding in exchange for opening a path to citizenship to young immigrants who are in the country illegally. He moved to end a programme that offered them temporary legal status.(ANI)