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Trump’s Plan to Fund Border Wall Construction Weighs by Court

At stake is billions of dollars that would allow Trump to make major progress on a signature campaign

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FILE - A woman and children are ushered into cars by U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing illegally over the border wall into San Diego, Calif., as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 9, 2018. VOA

President Donald Trump is moving fast to spend billions of dollars to build a wall on the Mexican border with money secured under his declaration of a national emergency, but he first must get past the courts.

On Friday, a federal judge in Oakland, California, will consider arguments in two cases that seek to block the White House from spending Defense and Treasury Department money for wall construction. California and 19 other states brought one lawsuit; the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, brought the other.

On Thursday, a federal judge in the nation’s capital will consider a bid by the U.S. House of Representatives to prevent Trump from spending any Defense Department money for a border wall.

At stake is billions of dollars that would allow Trump to make major progress on a signature campaign promise heading into his campaign for a second term.

trump's, plan, fund, border, wall
President Donald Trump is moving fast to spend billions of dollars to build a wall on the Mexican border with money secured under his declaration of a national emergency. Pixabay

The president’s adversaries say the emergency declaration was an illegal attempt to ignore Congress, which authorized far less wall spending than Trump wanted. Trump grudgingly accepted congressional approval of $1.375 billion to end a 35-day government shutdown on Feb. 15 but declared an emergency in almost the same breath. The White House says it has identified up to $8.1 billion that it could spend.

Trump’s actions “amount to a usurpation of Congress’ legislative powers in violation of bedrock separation of powers principles embedded in the Constitution,” the state attorneys general wrote.

The administration argues that the president is protecting national security interests as unprecedented numbers of Central American asylum-seeking families arrive at the U.S. border with Mexico.

“The increasing surge of migrants, the highest in over a decade, has placed a tremendous strain on the limited resources of the Department of Homeland Security and exacerbated the risks to border security, public safety, and the safety of the migrants themselves,” the Justice Department said in a court filing.

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The courtroom showdowns come amid a flurry of activity to accelerate wall construction. Kenneth Rapuano, an assistant secretary of defense, said in a court filing last month that work on the highest-priority, Pentagon-funded projects — in Yuma, Arizona, and in New Mexico — could begin as soon as May 25.

The Defense Department transferred $1 billion to border wall coffers in March and another $1.5 billion last week. Patrick Shanahan, the acting defense secretary, may decide as soon as Wednesday whether to transfer an additional $3.6 billion.

Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $789 million contract to SLSCO Ltd. of Galveston, Texas, to replace 46 miles (74 kilometers) of barrier in New Mexico, paid for by Pentagon funds.

On Wednesday, Barnard Construction Co. of Bozeman, Montana, won a $141.8 million contract to replace 5 miles (8 kilometers) in Yuma and 15 miles (24 kilometers) in the Border Patrol’s El Centro, California, sector. Southwest Valley Constructors of Albuquerque, New Mexico, won a $646 million contract to replace 63 miles (101 kilometers) in the Border Patrol’s Tucson, Arizona, sector. All of those projects are funded by the Defense Department, with construction expected to begin in as little as 45 days.

trump's, plan, fund, border, wall
On Thursday, federal judge in the nation’s capital will prevent Trump from spending any Defense Department money for a border wall. Pixabay

Also this week, the Department of Homeland Security waived environmental impact and other reviews to replace wall in California and Arizona under a law that gives the secretary sweeping powers to spec construction.

The environmental waivers cover a 15-mile (24-kilometer) replacement in El Centro that is funded by the Homeland Security Department’s 2018 appropriations and was awarded in a contract to SLSCO last year. The administration said construction could begin on that project as early as Saturday.

Aside from California, states participating in the legal challenge are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. (VOA)

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We Got Trump Elected, Shouldn’t Stop Him in 2020; Says Facebook Executive

Instead, the Russians worked to exploit existing divisions in the American public for example by hosting Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protest events in the same city on the same day

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FILE - President Donald Trump departs after speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House July 17, 2019, in Washington. VOA

Facebook Vice President Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth has claimed that it was the social networking giant that got Donald Trump elected as the US President in 2016 because “he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser”.

In a memo obtained by The New York Times, the key Facebook executive in the same vein suggested that the platform with over 2.45 billion monthly active users should not use its enormous reach to block Trump’s reelection in 2020.

Was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?

“I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks. He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period”, said Bosworth who runs Facebook’s hardware group.

“Trump just did unbelievable work,” Bosworth wrote.

“They weren’t running misinformation or hoaxes. They weren’t micro-targeting or saying different things to different people. They just used the tools we had to show the right creative to each persona.

He continued: “I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result. So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment”.

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Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump. Wikimedia Commons

“Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial (Galadriel) and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,” he wrote.

“As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”

“To be clear, I’m no fan of Trump. I donated the max to Hillary,” he tried to clarify his stand.

Bosworth said that it is worth reminding everyone that Russian interference was real but it was mostly not done through advertising.

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“$100,000 in ads on Facebook can be a powerful tool but it can’t buy you an American election, especially when the candidates themselves are putting up several orders of magnitude more money on the same platform (not to mention other platforms),” he wrote.

Instead, the Russians worked to exploit existing divisions in the American public for example by hosting Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protest events in the same city on the same day.

“Misinformation was also real and related but not the same as Russian interference,” Bosworth mentioned, admitting that Cambridge Analytica was one of the more acute cases where the details were almost all wrong. (IANS)