Judge's pointed questions leave murky the future of Trump's border wall plan

The Trump administration could be forced to re-examine its border wall plans and more actively engage with local, state and federal environmental agencies before construction begins, based on questions asked by a federal judge on Friday afternoon.

After two and half hours of arguments, U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel said he wanted additional written briefs before making a decision — likely next week.

This case comes as President Trump and Congress continue negotiations over immigration reform -- a high-stakes political issue not addressed during the court hearing.  If Curiel ultimately decides the Department of Homeland Security does not have authority to waive several dozen laws to expedite wall construction, then that could raise a question: Why would the Trump administration legalize 1.8 million DACA recipients in exchange for $28 billion in wall funding if that money could not be spent in a timely manner?

While Curiel said nothing to give a strong indication of which way he may ultimately rule, he did ask pointed questions about whether the feds gave state and local authorities short shrift in its border wall plans.

Curiel inquired about the level of congressionally mandated consultation Homeland Security solicited from the state of California and local entities about ways to mitigate environmental and other harms associated with wall construction.

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