OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued the Trump Administration on Wednesday to halt the construction of the border wall.
The suit alleges the federal government is overstepping its authority by waiving multiple environmental reviews and laws. The suit contends the government’s power to waive certain environmental laws to expedite border security expired in 2008.
“We want to protect those ordinary Americans, those ordinary Californians who work very hard, from any arbitrary decisions, even decisions that are arbitrary by the president of the united states,” Becerra said at a media conference in San Diego.
Gloria Smith, Managing Attorney for Sierra Club, based in Oakland, filed a similar lawsuit last week with two other advocacy groups, Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Legal Defense Fund.
“Clearly the attorney general understands how devastating these impacts would be,” Smith said.
She said waiving numerous environmental laws to build a border wall would impact the Tijuana River Estuary, a wilderness area, the California Coast, and a number of state parks. The lawsuits specifically target a 15 mile stretch in San Diego where eight border wall prototypes are set to be constructed and a 3 mile stretch in Calexico, Mexico.
“We merely want the Department of Homeland Security to comply with decades old federal protections, laws that have been on the books since the 1970's… the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act,” Smith said.
When asked about the California lawsuit, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he expects to win the legal battle. He told reporters in San Diego, “The United States government has the control of that border and a responsibility to secure it.”
Both lawsuits aim to stop the design, planning, and construction of the wall.
Aides to Becerra said a legal victory could apply to the entire border from California to Texas. The two suits will likely be merged together and heard in front of one federal judge.