Along the border, even some of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters r take issue with his proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Many landowners are proponents of private property rights and will put up a fight in court before they turn any of their land over to the federal government. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, however, recently met with lawmakers in Washington to assure them that he was on board with the use of eminent domain to obtain privately owned land along the border.
Tom Benning, a Washington-based reporter for the Dallas Morning News, spoke with Paxton about the issue. He says that while Paxton has previously been a strong ally in fights for private property rights along the state’s northern border on the Red River, he views this use of eminent domain in a different light.
“The distinction that he made is that eminent domain is used all the time properly in Texas for road construction or other projects that serve a public purpose,” Benning says. “He says that this is a public purpose and beyond that, one that provides safety to folks along the border and the rest of the nation.”
Paxton says that his office will monitor the process and ensure that Texans along the border are properly compensated for their land, but he will not back up property owners who express outright opposition to the wall.
Benning says that this is where the project will likely hit a snag, since settling eminent domain cases can take years.
“This has been tried before. This has been one of the issues that really gummed up the efforts under President Bush to build some of these barriers along the border and some of them still aren’t built,” Benning says.
Property rights cases dating from the time of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 are still being litigated.
“For some of these folks down there, this is property that they’ve owned for generations,” Benninng says. “I think that’s going to be one of the biggest challenges that the Trump administration is going to face in having this thing come into fruition.”
For now, it appears the Trump administration will have support from Paxton in this potentially challenging process.
Written by Emma Whalen.