Amid Recording-Setting Year for Drug Seizures at Sea, Trump Administration Considers Cuts to Coast Guard to Fund Border Wall
At an event in San Diego on Wednesday, the Coast Guard announced a record-breaking year in cocaine seizures at sea. The service has seized more than 455,000 pounds of cocaine so far in the fiscal year, which will end in October 1, breaking last year’s record of 433,790 pounds. In addition, the Coast Guard has detained at least 681 individuals suspected of smuggling throughout this year.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a joint press conference with Coast Guard officials in San Diego, and lauded the Coast Guard’s enforcement of drug laws. “By preventing overdoses and stopping new addictions before they start, enforcing our drug laws saves lives,” Sessions said. “This record-breaking year by our Coast Guard saw the arrest of more than 600 suspected drug traffickers and kept nearly half a million pounds of dangerous drugs from getting to our streets — and ultimately to our neighbors, friends, and families.”
Sessions’ praise for the Coast Guard’s historic year for drug seizures comes as the Trump administration eyes cuts to the Coast Guard budget to generate funding for the proposed US-Mexico border wall. A draft budget circulated in March proposed slashing billions of dollars of funding for federal disaster relief agencies and programs, including cutting 11 percent each of the TSA and FEMA budgets and 14 percent of the Coast Guard’s budget, while increasing funding for ICE and Customs and Border Protection by 36 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
The proposed budget cuts to federal disaster relief have encountered renewed criticism in the wake of several powerful hurricanes that devastated parts of Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean islands this season.
California Sues Trump Administration over Wall, Citing Environmental Concerns
Later on Wednesday, the state of California filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop construction of the border wall. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, alleges that the Trump administration and Department of Homeland Security are “in violation of NEPA [the National Environmental Policy Act] because they failed to prepare an EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] concerning a construction project that will span hundreds of miles in four states and in areas that either contain or are adjacent to environmentally sensitive natural resources.”
Furthermore, in failing to submit “a timely consistency determination,” the complaint alleges that the DHS has violated the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) with respect to the wall’s construction in San Diego County.
The suit also alleges that the project “is not authorized by Section 102 of IIRIRA because it fails to distinguish between different areas of the border and whether a particular area is an area of high illegal entry into the United States.” In addition, the suit claims that DHS failed to include the San Diego and Calexico project areas “as part of its obligation to identify and construct necessary barriers in Priority Areas prior to the December 31, 2008, deadline.”
To read the entire complaint, see here.