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California sues Trump administration over border wall in San Diego

SAN DIEGO - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Trump administration over its plan to begin construction on a border wall in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Speaking to reporters at Border Field State Park, Becerra said he filed a complaint in federal court in San Diego that alleges legal and constitutional violations. He said the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the state and California Coastal Commission.

"The border between the U.S. and Mexico spans some 2,000 miles -- the list of laws violated by the president's administration in order to build this campaign wall is almost as long," Becerra said. "The Department of Homeland Security would waive 37 federal statutes, as well as regulations that are related to those statutes, and he would also violate numerous state and local laws here in our great state of California."

The complaint alleges that the Trump administration relied on a federal law that doesn't actually authorize a project like a border wall, and that plans violate the separation of powers provision of the U.S. Constitution.

Becerra conceded that immigration policy is a federal matter, but added that everyone has to follow the law, including the president.

"If you want to do business in the state of California, and that includes the president of the United States, then be prepared to follow the law," he said.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, who represents California's border region, said ties between many residents and Mexico are very rich.

"The idea of the wall is something that was personal for us," Gonzalez Fletcher said.

"Yes, there are already some structures along the way, but this idea came about to create a bigger barrier -- to separate us more -- from our families, from our friends, from our trading partners, from people just steps from us in order to prove a point that seems to many of us who live in the border region a little silly," she said.

She said there were bigger enforcement problems with tunnels used to smuggle people and drugs into this country. The wall won't make the U.S. safer, she said.

The announcement came one day after the San Diego City Council voted 5-3 to pass a resolution opposing the border wall. That resolution stated the wall would be detrimental to San Diego's environment and tourism.

"The border wall is a stupid idea," Councilman David Alvarez said. "The border can become efficient and safe with investments in infrastructure and technology instead of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars for a wall which will accomplish nothing."

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution in April that supported a bill in the state Legislature that would prohibit California from doing business with contractors who help build a wall.

The federal government is seeking to start construction of the wall in San Diego County, and last month the Department of Homeland Security announced it secured a waiver that would allow it to bypass environmental regulations to speed up the building process in both San Diego and Imperial counties.

Before the City Council voted Tuesday to oppose the construction, dozens of residents lined up to speak to city officials. Three members of the public expressed their support for the wall, but most denounced it.

Council members Chris Cate, Mark Kersey and Lorie Zapf voted against the resolution, with Zapf saying the resolution only served as "political posturing."

"I'm just wondering what the point of this is," Zapf said. "Other than political posturing, I don't see anything else."

Port of San Diego Vice Chairman Rafael Castellanos was among those who spoke against the border barrier. He said it was important to stand in solidarity with the immigrant community.

"This is not medieval China. We are not trying to keep out Mongol hordes," Castellanos said. "This is not a Matt Damon movie, this is a silly federal frolic that may go down in the Guinness World Book of Records as the worst pork-barrel project of all time."