SAN DIEGO (AP) – President Donald Trump has won a judge's permission to build a border wall with Mexico. Now he just needs the money.
A judge who was taunted by Trump during the presidential campaign sided Tuesday with the president on a challenge to building the wall. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel rejected arguments by the state of California and advocacy groups that the administration overreached by waiving laws requiring environmental and other reviews before construction can begin.
"Big legal win today," Trump tweeted in response to the ruling. He didn't mention his prior remarks about the judge's Mexican heritage.
Despite the victory, Congress has yet to fund the wall and Trump's demands that Mexico pay have gone nowhere. This month, the Senate rejected a request for $18 billion that was part of a package including sharp cuts to legal immigration and permission for young immigrants to stay in the country after they were temporarily shielded from deportation under an Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Trump said in a tweet Wednesday sections of the wall will not be built "until the whole Wall is approved."
The president tweeted: "I have decided that sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW will not be built until the whole Wall is approved. Big victory yesterday with ruling from the courts that allows us to proceed. OUR COUNTRY MUST HAVE BORDER SECURITY!"
The White House did not immediately answer questions about the tweet.
Trump berated Curiel during the campaign for his handling of fraud allegations against now-defunct Trump University, suggesting the Indiana-born judge's Mexican heritage reflected a bias.
Curiel mentioned his Indiana roots in his 101-page ruling on the wall when he cited another native of the state, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote in another case that courts should not make policy judgments.
"The court cannot and does not consider whether the underlying decisions to construct border barriers are politically wise or prudent," Curiel wrote.
Curiel wrote that the law certainly "is not a model of legislative precision" and that both sides made plausible arguments, preventing him from making a clear finding that the administration overreached.
The administration has issued three waivers since August, two to build in parts of California and one in part of New Mexico. President George W. Bush's administration issued the previous five waivers, allowing the government to quickly extend barriers to about one-third of the border.
The Center for Biological Diversity said in its lawsuit that the waiver authority cannot be interpreted to last forever. California argued that it expired in 2008, when Homeland Security satisfied congressional requirements at the time on how much wall to build.
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