Texans who own land along the border have reportedly begun receiving letters about the government’s desire to purchase that land so that they can build the border wall. In fact, these letters had reportedly begun going out even before President Donald Trump was inaugurated, according to CBS News.
CBS News reported about a Texan who received one of these letters:
Yvette Salinas, a Texan whose ailing mother owns a small parcel of land with her siblings near the Rio Grande was informed by the “Declaration of Taking” letter sent by DOJ that her 1.2 acres was worth $2,900, according to a story in the Texas Observer. She told the Observer that the family’s 16 acres has been in her family for five generations. The government’s letter asks recipients to sign in order to receive compensation, acknowledge that they “do not have an interest” in the case or do not intend to make a claim. It doesn’t really say what landowners should do if, like Salinas, they don’t want to sell their land.
Salinas called the letter “scary” and said “you feel you have to sign.” Her family is consulting a lawyer about its next steps. If other border landowners have the same reluctance to sell as Salinas, the government may have a long battle ahead to secure all the land necessary for the wall, given that the federal government doesn’t own most of it.
The southern border stretches nearly 2,000 miles and is made up of land owned by the federal and state governments, private owners, and tribal land.
About a third of the land, 632 miles, is federal or tribal and the other two thirds sit primarily in Texas and are either state- or privately-owned, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The tribal lands along the border would, according to the Washington Post, require Congress to pass a bill in order to gain the ability to build the wall there.
There are a lot of factors, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that if he hasn’t already, Trump will figure it out.