President Donald Trump escalated his feud with California on Wednesday, threatening to delay portions of his proposed southern border wall in the state until Congress fully funds the project.
It was unclear, given the opposition to the border barrier from California officials and many of the state’s residents, how delaying construction would be perceived as a punishment there. The threat, however, is likely to enthuse his conservative base, which is no fan of the liberal-leaning Golden State.
A federal judge on Tuesday who Trump once called biased due to his Mexican heritage, Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, ruled the administration has the legal authority to waive environmental laws to accelerate the border wall project. The California government and environmental groups had argued to the contrary.
“I have decided that sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW will not be built until the whole Wall is approved,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Big victory yesterday with ruling from the courts that allows us to proceed. OUR COUNTRY MUST HAVE BORDER SECURITY!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
Watch: Trump’s Impulsiveness Could Get in Way of Border Wall Promise
Trump is frustrated with California officials for what he perceives as their unwillingness to cooperate with federal law enforcement officials’ attempts to round up illegal immigrants who are suspected of ties to or membership in gangs like MS-13. The president has threatened to pull ICE agents out of the state over the flap.
On Tuesday, a White House official confirmed that the president will travel to the states next month. The trip will include a stop in San Diego, where Trump will view eight prototypes of his proposed border wall.
The president’s threat to delay construction in California also is puzzling because the wall project is now married to other immigration issues, including the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday opted against allowing the administration to skip the appeals process of a lawsuit about Trump’s authority to cancel it via executive order.
That means a March 5 deadline he gave Congress to pass a DACA-addressing immigration bill has slipped, likely by several months as the lower court process plays out.
And the wall proposal and other immigration issues would be a part of any DACA bill, meaning Trump is months away from getting the full wall funding he wants in that legislation — though partial wall funds in a coming omnibus spending measure would help move the project along.