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Democrats Warn Trump Against Diverting Funds For The Wall

Illegal crossings at the southern border have dropped dramatically since the late 1970s

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Democrats, USA
U.S. Representatives Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) exit after touring a Border Patrol substation with other legislators in Alamogordo, New Mexico, Jan. 7, 2019. VOA

A Congressional delegation of Democrats touring a Border Patrol facility in New Mexico on Monday warned President Donald Trump against circumventing Congress and diverting already appropriated money towards building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“He can expect a strong and swift challenge from all of us and other members of Congress, and from the American people,” said U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, when asked about Trump’s planned address to the nation and his visit to the border on Thursday.

Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, is leading a Congressional delegation visiting the Border Patrol facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico to investigate the death of 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo, the second child to die in December after being apprehended crossing the border illegally.

Wall, Democrats
The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, Jan. 7, 2019. VOA

Democrats, who now control the U.S. House of Representatives, have rejected the Republican president’s demand for $5.7 billion to help build a wall. Without a deal on that sticking point, talks to fund the government — now in the 17th day of a shutdown — have stalled.

Trump has vowed not to back off his 2016 campaign promise to build a wall that he believes will stem illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He promised during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico has refused to do so.

Democrats in Congress say a wall would be expensive, inefficient and immoral.

In New Mexico, Border Patrol agents walked the Congressional delegation through the holding areas of the Alamogordo station, which Representative Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, said were “miraculously” empty.

Castro said the Border Patrol did not provide a report about Gomez’s death nor did they tour the hospital where he was treated for a cold and then released with a prescription for antibiotics and ibuprofen. The boy died shortly after his release.

“We know that CBP is woefully under equipped in terms of its standards of medical care, but we also need to find out whether the doctors in the hospital – how responsible they were in terms of that case,” Castro said.

USA, democrats
Migrants traveling with children walk up a hill to a waiting U.S. Border Patrol agent just inside San Ysidro, Calif., after climbing over the border wall from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

The Border Patrol itself has said their facilities are not properly equipped to hold families, Castro said. “I think all of us who look at what they have here believe that that is true.”

U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso, said the area where Gomez and his father turned themselves over to Border Patrol is on American soil and already fenced.

“The wall only pushes people out to more dangerous, treacherous crossings, creating even more death,” she said.

Also Read: Will Not Bend in Wall Funding Demand: Donald Trump

Illegal crossings at the southern border have dropped dramatically since the late 1970s, but in recent years more Central American families and unaccompanied children are migrating to the United States. Many are released after turning themselves into border agents and requesting asylum, a legal process that can take years to resolve in U.S. immigration courts. (VOA)

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Trump Administration to Revoke California’s Authority to Set Auto Mileage Standards

The Trump administration is poised to revoke California's authority to set auto mileage standards, asserting

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Trump, California, Auto
FILE - Automobile traffic flows over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. California's long struggles with smog mean the state has been setting its own mileage standards since before the 1970 Clean Air Act was written. VOA

The Trump administration is poised to revoke California’s authority to set auto mileage standards, asserting that only the federal government has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.

Conservative and free-market groups have been asked to attend a formal announcement of the rollback set for Wednesday afternoon at Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington.

Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said Tuesday that her group was among those invited to the event featuring EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The move comes after the Justice Department recently opened an antitrust investigation into a deal between California and four automakers for tougher pollution and related mileage requirements than those sought by President Donald Trump. Trump also has sought to relax Obama-era federal mileage standards nationwide, weakening a key effort by his Democratic predecessor to slow climate change.

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks at a news conference in Washington, Sept. 12, 2019. VOA

Top California officials and environmental groups pledged legal action to stop the rollback.

The White House declined to comment Tuesday, referring questions to EPA. EPA’s press office did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment.

But EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the National Automobile Dealers Association on Tuesday that the Trump administration would move “in the very near future” to take steps toward establishing one nationwide set of fuel-economy standards.

“We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation,” he said, adding that higher fuel economy standards would hurt consumers by increasing the average sticker price of new cars and requiring automakers to produce more electric vehicles.

Also Read- Lack of Sleep Alters Fat Metabolism, Says Study

Word of the pending announcement came as Trump traveled to California on Tuesday for an overnight trip that includes GOP fundraising events near San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

California’s authority to set its own, tougher emissions standards goes back to a waiver issued by Congress during passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970. The state has long pushed automakers to adopt more fuel-efficient passenger vehicles that emit less pollution. A dozen states and the District of Columbia also follow California’s fuel economy standards.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that the Trump administration’s action will hurt both U.S. automakers and American families. He said California would fight the administration in federal court.

“You have no basis and no authority to pull this waiver,” Becerra, a Democrat, said in a statement, referring to Trump. “We’re ready to fight for a future that you seem unable to comprehend.”

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FILE – California Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses a news conference in Sacramento, July 23, 2019. VOA

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the White House “has abdicated its responsibility to the rest of the world on cutting emissions and fighting global warming.”

“California won’t ever wait for permission from Washington to protect the health and safety of children and families,” said Newsom, a Democrat.

The deal struck in July between California and four of the world’s largest automakers — Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — bypassed the Trump administration’s plan to freeze emissions and fuel economy standards adopted under Obama at 2021 levels.

The four automakers agreed with California to reduce emissions by 3.7% per year starting with the 2022 model year, through 2026. That compares with 4.7% yearly reductions through 2025 under the Obama standards. Emissions standards are closely linked with fuel economy requirements because vehicles pollute less if they burn fewer gallons of fuel.

Also Read- Festival Sales by Amazon, Flipkart Violating FDI Norms

The U.S. transportation sector is the nation’s biggest single source of planet-warming greenhouse gasses.

Wheeler said Tuesday: “California will be able to keep in place and enforce programs to address smog and other forms of air pollution caused by motor vehicles.” But fuel economy has been one of the key regulatory tools the state has used to reduce harmful emissions.

Environmentalists condemned the Trump administration’s expected announcement, which comes as gasoline prices have crept higher following a weekend drone attack that hobbled Saudi Arabian oil output.

“Everyone wins when we adopt strong clean car standards as our public policy,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “Strong clean car standards give us healthier air to breathe, help protect us from the urgent threat of climate change and save Americans hundreds of dollars a year in gas expenses.” (VOA)