Trump says California border wall on hold until entire wall approved

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the parts of a proposed border wall he says California wants will not be built until the entire southern wall is approved, although state officials have said they are strongly opposed to the plan.

Construction workers raise the 30-foot high bollard style wall, at the US-Mexico border to replace a section of the border wall near Calexico, California. REUTERS/Earnie Grafton

“I have decided that sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW will not be built until the whole Wall is approved,” Trump said in a tweet.

A U.S.-Mexico border wall, a key item promised by Trump to his political base of supporters, has become a sticking point in talks to keep alive a federal program protecting young people brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation.

A U.S. judge on Tuesday had sided with Trump’s administration and rejected an attempt by California and environmental groups to stop the federal government from building a wall on the state’s border with Mexico. California currently has some sections of existing barriers.

The lawsuit filed in a San Diego federal court alleged that Trump’s proposed wall violates federal environmental standards and constitutional provisions regarding the separation of powers and states’ rights.

The plaintiffs asked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel to stop the administration from pursuing the barrier until it demonstrates compliance with environmental laws.

“Big victory yesterday with ruling from the courts that allows us to proceed. OUR COUNTRY MUST HAVE BORDER SECURITY!” Trump added in a tweet on Wednesday.

It was unclear what Trump meant about parts of the wall California wants built, given the state’s opposition to the whole idea.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra said after the ruling his office remained opposed to the border wall and would evaluate its options.

Trump is scheduled to visit California in mid-March to see prototypes for the proposed border wall, administration officials have said.

A week ago the federal government began work to replace a section of barrier built in the 1990s in the border town of Calexico with a 30-foot (9.1-meter) high stretch of bollard-style wall.

That was the first wall contract awarded by the Trump administration apart from eight prototypes built last year in San Diego.

In his latest budget proposal to Congress, Trump requested $23 billion for border security, most of it for the wall.

Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto postponed plans for the Mexican leader’s first visit to the White House, after a testy phone call in which Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of the wall.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by Eric Walsh; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli