Trump's Border Wall Hinges on Legal Team Devoted to Eminent Domain; Texans Wary

WASHINGTON -- The administration made no effort Thursday to explain how it will get Mexico to pay for a border wall, as the White House rolled out a budget that calls for a new squadron of lawyers focused on wresting land from border residents in Texas and other states.A sea-to-sea barrier of the sort promised by President Donald Trump would require control of land in a narrow strip along 2,000 miles. Not all landowners would be willing to sell. That means the project could require widespread use of "eminent domain" -- the power to force owners to sell land for a public purpose."You're taking land that in some cases belonged to people for generations. In Texas, private property rights is a very, very important concept," said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat.The president is asking Congress for $4.1 billion through next year to begin construction of a wall, a barrier projected to cost as much as $25 billion, plus annual repairs.Tucked in the budget blueprint rolled out Thursday is a proposal to hire 20 attorneys to pursue federal efforts to obtain the land and holdings necessary to secure the Southwest border.Conservatives embrace tighter border security but typically cast a wary eye at government land grabs. Foes of Trump's plan for a wall hope that forges a potent, if unusual, coalition between people who fret about landowners' rights and others focused on protecting immigrants."For a lot of people along the border ,this isn't their first rodeo when it comes to the federal government trying to seize their land to build a wall," said Tom Jawetz, vice president of immigration at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank. He recalled fights after a 2006 law that authorized roughly 700 miles of fencing now in place. "There's a lot of land and there are a lot of different land owners."  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us