fogn.png
Thursday July 18th, 2019 5:47AM

US presses ahead with border wall in court despite shutdown

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HOUSTON (AP) — A federal attorney in South Texas said in court this week that during the ongoing partial government shutdown, he only has been allowed to work on cases related to President Donald Trump's proposed border wall.

The Texas Civil Rights Project on Thursday released a transcript of a Tuesday hearing in a case where the U.S. government has sued a local landowner for her property along the U.S.-Mexico border. Many other civil cases have been delayed during the shutdown, which was triggered by Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall.

According to the transcript, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez noted that government attorneys working on border wall cases have not been furloughed despite the shutdown.

The prosecutor, Eric Paxton Warner, responded, "This is all I'm allowed to work on, Your Honor."

Warner and a spokeswoman for the local U.S. attorney's office did not return messages. A spokesman for the Department of Justice says each U.S. attorney had the authority to determine which civil cases should move forward or be delayed, but that civil cases would be delayed "to the extent this can be done without compromising to a significant degree the safety of human life or the protection of property."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said last year that it planned to start building in February. But unlike on other parts of the border, most border land in South Texas is owned privately. That requires the government to seize it through eminent domain, suing private landowners in cases that can take months or years. Some landowners who would be affected have already vowed to fight the government in court.

Efren Olivares, a lawyer for the Texas Civil Rights Project, accused the government of being "fixated" on a border wall at the expense of other matters.

"As someone who is also handling family reunification cases in which government lawyers are telling us they can't do anything to help us because of the government shutdown, it's extremely upsetting and frustrating," he said.

The case that led to Tuesday's hearing was opened 11 years ago, during the last major effort to build border barriers under the Secure Fence Act. It involves a chunk of land in Los Ebanos, a town of roughly 300 people situated along a bend in the Rio Grande, the river separating the U.S. and Mexico in Texas.

Olivares said the U.S. government already obtained the land it sought from the landowner, Pamela Rivas, but both sides haven't agreed yet on compensation.

The government did not build in Los Ebanos under the Secure Fence Act, amid concerns about a wall potentially causing flooding in the town. Warner said in court that the government planned to build 18-foot high "wall or fencing" on Rivas' property if it receives wall funding this year. Alvarez, the judge, noted that the funding dispute had led to the government shutdown.

"That's why we're shut down, yes," Warner said, according to the transcript.

U.S. attorney's offices continue to prosecute criminal cases and some civil cases. But several immigration-related civil cases have been stayed indefinitely. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said Wednesday that it estimates it can sustain full operations through the end of next week.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
On day Jayme escaped, suspect sought job _ with dodgy resume
The man suspected of kidnapping Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs and killing her parents apparently applied for a job online the day that Jayme escaped _ and lied about his work experience
2:40PM ( 7 minutes ago )
US peace envoy in Pakistan seeking end to 17-year Afghan war
Washington's peace envoy Khalilzad in Pakistan on last leg of regional tour aimed at resolving Afghanistan's 17-year war
2:30PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Watchdog: Thousands more children may have been separated
Government investigators say thousands more migrant children may have been separated from their parents than the Trump administration has acknowledged
2:28PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Zimbabwe pastor faces subversion charge amid economic unrest
Zimbabwe pastor faces subversion charge in economic unrest; US 'alarmed' as activists targeted
2:01PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Michigan State says Engler resignation effective immediately
Michigan State University's Board of Trustees says interim president John Engler's resignation is effectively immediately
1:58PM ( 49 minutes ago )
California storms kill at least 5 as flooding fears rise
The last Pacific storm in a weeklong series is pounding already-soaked California with rain and snow
1:53PM ( 54 minutes ago )
AP National News
Cohen acknowledges rigging polls for Trump in 2014 and 2015
President Donald Trump's estranged former lawyer is acknowledging paying a technology company to artificially boost Trump's standing in two online polls, saying Trump directed him to do it
11:41AM ( 3 hours ago )
Microsoft pledges $500M to tackle Seattle housing crisis
Microsoft pledges $500 million to address homelessness in Seattle
10:08AM ( 4 hours ago )
Last round of stormy weather to hit California
The last Pacific storm in a weeklong series is expected to douse California again and forecasters say the state is still at risk for dangerous mudslides in burn areas and blizzards in the high Sierras
2:21AM ( 12 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
On day Jayme escaped, suspect sought job _ with dodgy resume
The man suspected of kidnapping Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs and killing her parents apparently applied for a job online the day that Jayme escaped _ and lied about his work experience
2:40PM ( 7 minutes ago )
US peace envoy in Pakistan seeking end to 17-year Afghan war
Washington's peace envoy Khalilzad in Pakistan on last leg of regional tour aimed at resolving Afghanistan's 17-year war
2:30PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Watchdog: Thousands more children may have been separated
Government investigators say thousands more migrant children may have been separated from their parents than the Trump administration has acknowledged
2:28PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Brazil's Bolsonaro makes stumbling start as president
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's first two weeks on the job have been filled with missteps and communication gaffes _ and little in the way of his promised sweeping changes
2:27PM ( 21 minutes ago )
9 dead in car bombing at police academy in Colombia capital
Authorities say at least nine people have been killed and dozens injured in a car bombing at a police academy in Colombia's capital
2:24PM ( 23 minutes ago )