East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, March 30, 2017, Page Page 8A, Image 8

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    Page 8A
East Oregonian
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Judge extends order blocking travel ban
federal judge in Hawaii
decided Wednesday to extend
his order blocking President
Donald Trump’s travel ban.
U.S. District Judge Derrick
Watson issued the longer-
lasting hold on the ban just
hours after hearing arguments.
Hawaii says the policy
Muslims and hurts the state’s
tourist-dependent economy.
The implied message in the
revised ban is like a “neon
sign flashing ‘Muslim ban,
Muslim ban’” that the govern-
ment didn’t bother to turn
off, state Attorney General
Douglas Chin told the judge.
Extending the temporary
order until the state’s lawsuit
was resolved would ensure
the constitutional rights of
Muslim citizens across the
U.S. are vindicated after
“repeated stops and starts of
the last two months,” the state
AP Photo/Caleb Jones
Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin speaks outside
federal court in Honolulu, Wednesday.
has said.
The government says the
ban falls within the president’s
power to protect national
security. Hawaii has only
made generalized concerns
about its effect on students
and tourism, Department of
Justice attorney Chad Readler
told the judge via telephone.
The Trump administration
had asked Watson to narrow
his ruling to cover only the
part of Trump’s executive
order that suspends new
visas for people from six
Muslim-majority countries.
Readler said a freeze on the
U.S. refugee program had no
effect on Hawaii.
Watson rejected that
argument, preventing the
administration from halting
the flow of refugees.
Watson said in court that
the government only argued
for that narrower interpre-
tation after a federal judge
in Maryland blocked the
six-nation travel ban but said
it wasn’t clear that the refugee
suspension was similarly
motivated by religious bias.
Watson noted that the
government said 20 refugees
were resettled in Hawaii since
“Is this a mathematical
exercise that 20 isn’t enough?
... What do I make of that?”
the judge asked Readler.
The government attorney
replied that 20 is simply a
small number of refugees.
“In whose judgment?”
Watson asked.
Hawaii was the first state
to sue over Trump’s revised
ban. The imam of a Honolulu
mosque joined the challenge,
arguing that the ban would
prevent his Syrian moth-
er-in-law from visiting family
in Hawaii.
In his arguments, Chin
quoted Trump’s comments
that the revised travel ban is
a “watered down” version of
the original.
“We cannot fault the
president for being politically
incorrect, but we do fault him
for being constitutionally
incorrect,” Chin said.
Earlier this month, Watson
prevented the federal govern-
ment from suspending new
visas for people from Somalia,
Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya
and Yemen and freezing the
nation’s refugee program.
His ruling came just hours
before the federal government
planned to start enforcing
Trump’s executive order.
Trump called Watson’s
previous ruling an example
of “unprecedented judicial
Hawaii’s ruling would not
be directly affected by a deci-
sion siding with the federal
government in the Maryland
case, legal experts said. The
4th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals set a hearing for May
8 to consider the administra-
tion’s appeal.
“What a ruling in 4th
Circuit in favor of the admin-
istration would do is create
a split in authority between
federal courts in different
parts of the country,” said
Richard Primus, a professor
of constitutional law at the
University of Michigan law
“Cases with splits in
authority are cases the U.S.
Supreme Court exists to
resolve,” he said.
Border wall ‘complex,’ faces geographic challenges
— Geographic and physical
challenges — including the
Rio Grande and threatened
wildlife — will make it
difficult to build the “big,
beautiful wall” that President
Donald Trump has promised
on the U.S.-Mexico border,
Interior Secretary Ryan
Zinke said Wednesday.
Building a wall “is
complex in some areas,”
including Big Bend National
Park and along the river,
which twists through nearly
half of the 2,000-mile border,
Zinke said.
Hundreds of species live
within 30 miles of the border,
including threatened jaguars
and Mexican gray wolves.
The Trump administration
is poised to relax protections
for the jaguars, which live in
northern Mexico and parts
of the southwestern United
States, to make it easier to
build the wall.
campaign, Trump energized
his crowds with his insis-
tence that a wall will be
constructed along the border
and that Mexico will pay for
it. Zinke’s comments, and
the administration’s budget
proposal seeking billions
in U.S. taxpayer dollars to
finance the project, offer a
reality check and a possible
sign the president is moving
away from his initial plan.
The complications Zinke
highlighted were the same
faced by Trump’s prede-
cessors, George W. Bush
and Barack Obama, as they
sought to build or complete
hundreds of miles of fencing
along the border.
Fencing that is already in
place is a mixture of various
designs, including towering
steel bollards designed
to keep both people and
vehicles from moving north
and shorter steel posts aimed
only at blocking cars. In
parts of Texas’ Rio Grande
Valley, some stretches of
fencing are nearly a mile
away from the border in part
to accommodate flood plains
and an international treaty.
And in Texas, almost all
of the land along the border
is privately owned. When
Bush tried to build border
fencing starting in 2006, he
AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd
Tourists kayak through Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande river, along a cliff face that is Mexico, left, at Big
Bend National Park in Texas, Monday. Here the Rio Grande slides between two sheer cliff faces, one in Mexico
and one in the United States, that tower 1,500 feet above the water.
Trump calls for domestic cuts to finance border wall
— President Donald Trump
is proposing immediate
budget cuts of $18 billion
from programs like medical
research, infrastructure and
community grants so U.S.
taxpayers, not Mexico, can
cover the down payment
on the border wall.
documents were submitted
to Congress amid nego-
tiations over a catchall
spending bill that would
avert a partial government
shutdown at the end of next
month. The package would
wrap up $1.1 trillion in
unfinished spending bills
and address the Trump
administration’s request for
faced stiff opposition from
local ranchers and farmers,
many of whom took the
government to court on plans
to use their land.
an immediate $30 billion
in additional Pentagon
Tuesday, would eliminate
$1.2 billion in National
research grants, a favorite
of both parties. The
community development
block grant program, also
popular, would be halved,
amounting to a cut of $1.5
billion, and Trump would
strip $500 million from a
popular grant program for
Some of that money would
help pay for parts of the
Like Trump’s 2018
proposed budget, which
was panned by both
Democrats and Republi-
cans earlier this month,
the proposals have little
chance of being enacted.
But they could create
bad political optics for the
struggling Trump White
House, since the admin-
istration asked earlier for
$3 billion to pay for the
U.S.-Mexico border wall
and other immigration
enforcement plans. During
the campaign, Trump
Mexico would pay for the
wall, a claim the country
has disputed.
responsible for the border
wall, but Zinke said the
Interior Department will
play a critical support role.
According to the Govern-
ment Accountability Office,
federal and tribal lands
make up about 632 miles,
or roughly 1/3 of the nearly
2,000-mile border.
“At the end of the day,
what’s important is American
security and to make sure we
have a border,” Zinke told
is asking the American
taxpayer to cover the cost
of a wall — unneeded,
expensive — that Mexico
was supposed to pay for,
and he is cutting programs
vital to the middle class to
get that done,” said Senate
Minority Leader Chuck
Schumer, D-N.Y. “Build
the wall or repair or build a
bridge or tunnel or road in
your community? What’s
the choice?”
The roster of cuts were
sent to Capitol Hill as a
set of options for GOP
staff aides and lawmakers
crafting a catchall spending
bill for the ongoing budget
year, which ends Sept. 30.
reporters on a conference
call. “Without a border a
nation cannot exist.”
prepared for Homeland
Security Secretary John
Kelly estimated that a wall
along the entire border
would cost about $21 billion.
Congressional Republicans
have estimated a more
moderate price tag of $12
billion to $15 billion.
Customs and Border
Protection said in a state-
ment Wednesday that cost
estimates are “premature
as there are many variables
that are currently unknown.”
The agency said it could not
provide a detailed estimate
for the project.
Kelly told Congress in
January that a wall wouldn’t
be a complete fix for the
“A physical barrier in
and of itself will not do
the job,” Kelly said during
his confirmation hearing.
“Certainly it has to be a
layered approach.”
appeared to bolster that view
and followed remarks he
made Tuesday to the Public
Lands Council, a group that
represents Western ranchers.
“The border is compli-
cated, as far as building a
physical wall,” Zinke said
in remarks first reported
by E&E News. “The Rio
Grande, what side of the
river are you going to put the
wall? We’re not going to put
it on our side and cede the
river to Mexico. And we’re
probably not going to put it
in the middle of the river.”
Electronic monitors may
be more appropriate in that
region, Zinke said, while
areas with imposing natural
features may not require
additional reinforcements.
The border is already
dotted with underground
sensors and camera towers,
along with about 700 miles
of fencing in Texas, New
Mexico, Arizona and Cali-
fornia, and it’s unclear how
much new fencing the Trump
administration is proposing.
According to new budget
details sent to Congress, the
administration wants imme-
diate funding to complete
an existing barrier in the
Rio Grande Valley, $500
million to complete 28 miles
of a border levee wall near
McAllen, Texas, and $350
million for construction
along two segments near San
Senate intel
leaders pledge
Russia probe
— Pledging cooperation,
the top Republican and
Democrat on the Senate
intelligence committee said
Wednesday they would
steer clear of politics in their
panel’s probe of Russian
interference in last year’s
election. They made a point
of putting themselves at
arm’s length from the House
investigation marked by
partisanship and disputes.
Richard Burr of North
Carolina, the GOP chairman
of the Senate committee,
told reporters on Capitol Hill
he would not even answer
questions about the House
probe. “We’re not asking the
House to play any role in
our investigation. We don’t
plan to play any role in their
investigation,” Burr said
ahead of his panel’s open
hearing Thursday.
Standing alongside
his committee’ ranking
Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner
of Virginia, Burr said: “Mark
and I work hand in hand on
this. ... We’re partners to see
that this is completed and
that we have a product at the
end of the day that we can, in
bipartisanship, support.”
The senators’ comments
came the same day an
attorney for former National
Security Adviser Michael
Flynn said the retired U.S.
Army lieutenant general
has not been interviewed
by the Senate intelligence
committee. One of Flynn’s
lawyers, Robert K.
Kelner, said they have had
discussions with committee
staff members, but Flynn
has not been contacted
So far, the committee has
requested 20 individuals to
be interviewed. Five have
been scheduled, and the
remaining 15 are likely to be
scheduled within the next 10
days. Additional witnesses
could also be interviewed.
13 killed, 2 hurt
when church bus
and truck crash
UVALDE, Texas (AP) —
A small shuttle bus carrying
Texas church members
home from a retreat collided
head-on with a pickup
truck, killing 13 people
and injuring two others
Wednesday on a two-lane
highway in southwestern
Texas, officials said.
All of the victims who
died were senior adults
who attended First Baptist
Church of New Braunfels,
Texas. A total of 14 senior
adults were on the bus
and the driver was the
only person in the pickup
when the vehicles collided
about 12:30 p.m. on U.S.
83 outside Garner State
Park in northern Uvalde
County, according to Texas
Department of Public Safety
Sgt. Conrad Hein and a
church statement. The area
is about 75 miles west of
San Antonio.
Hein said two other bus
passengers and the pickup
driver were injured and
hospitalized. It was not
immediately clear what
caused the collision about
120 miles from the church,
where the members were
The National
Transportation Safety Board
has sent investigators to the
scene, NTSB spokesman
Terry Williams said.
Photos and video of the
crash’s aftermath showed
heavy damage to the front
drivers’ sides of both
vehicles where it appeared
the two had collided. The
back of the bus was up on
a guardrail, with glass and
debris scattered onto the
grass below.
2 ex-Christie
aides sentenced
in bridge traffic
revenge plot
(AP) — Two former aides
to Republican Gov. Chris
Christie were sentenced
to prison on Wednesday
for creating a colossal
traffic jam at the George
Washington Bridge for
political revenge, a scandal
that sank Christie’s White
House campaign and was
attributed by the judge to
a venomous climate inside
state government.
Bill Baroni, Christie’s
appointee to the Port
Authority of New York and
New Jersey, was sentenced
to two years in prison, and
Bridget Kelly, Christie’s
former deputy chief of
staff, was sentenced to 18
months at separate hearings
in the 2013 lane-closing
case. Both must also serve
500 hours of community
U.S. District Judge Susan
Wigenton said it was clear
there was never a legitimate
traffic study, as they claimed
during the trial, and said
the defendants sought to
mislead the jury with their
During Kelly’s portion
of the hearing, Wigenton
also blamed the culture
in Trenton, the state
capital. Trial testimony
described angry tirades by
the governor and detailed
his subordinates using
the Port Authority as a
source of political favors
for politicians whose
endorsements they sought.
Christie was not charged
with any wrongdoing in
the federal case. State
prosecutors have declined to
pursue a citizen’s criminal
complaint lodged against
him, but questions remain
over how much he knew
about the plot.