A Judge Just Permanently Blocked Trump From Using $2.5 Billion in Military Money For His Border Wall

The president tried to use the photo of drowned migrants to defend his plans.

Kazuhiro Nogi/AP

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The budget for President Donald Trump’s border wall has shrunk by $2.5 billion, after a federal judge in Northern California issued a pair of rulings blocking the president from using military funding to build parts of the wall on Friday.

Hours after the ruling, Trump said that a father and daughter from El Salvador, whose drowning in the Rio Grande was made famous by a chilling photo circulating this week, would not have died if his border wall was built. Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria drowned while trying to cross the river into the United States, after failing to be granted asylum in Mexico. “If they thought it was hard to get in, they wouldn’t be coming up,” the president claimed during a G-20 press conference in Osaka, Japan. And if congressional Democrats just allowed Trump to do what he wanted with immigration law, he added, “things like that wouldn’t happen.”

In May, Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. blocked the White House from using Department of Defense funding to build a border wall in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, according to Politico. Friday’s ruling makes that ban permanent, and expands it to more areas of the border, including California. In his May order, Gilliam wrote that the Trump administration’s effort to shift military funds violated the “fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic.”

Trump called Gilliam an “activist Obama appointed judge” in a May 25 tweet.

This piece has been corrected to accurately reflect the age of the child who drowned at the border.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

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