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The Rio Grande Valley, an area located in the southernmost tip of South Texas, is seeing increased signs that a border wall or fence is immient: heavy machinery gathering near the Rio Grande, wooded areas being cleared, and residents receiving letters from the government asking to survey their property and possibly seize it through eminent domain.
Gary Jacobs, a former chief executive officer of Laredo National Bank, had an in-depth conversation with Bloomberg about President Trump’s border wall could trigger a massive backlash from Texan landowners.
Texas, a state where Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 9% in the 2016 presidential election, shows the political complexity at play.
After Trump declared a national emergency last week to access billions of dollars in funding, some landowners in Texas fear that the Trump administration could seize their land.
“The way the eminent domain laws are written, we have no rights,” warns Jacobs. “That’s the issue. It’s not what they’re going to build. It’s how they’re taking the land.”
Not long after Trump invoked the National Emergencies Act, the Legal advocacy group Public Citizen filed suit on behalf of landowners in Texas.
Public Citizen is claiming Trump exceeded his authority under the federal National Emergencies Act because there is no crisis at the border, and that a declaration of a national emergency to build the wall violates the separation of powers, more or less, it is unconstitutional for Trump to declare an emergency because Congress already declined to appropriate the money.
Bloomberg said property seizure laws established in the 1800s leave Texan landowners with limited options. (more…)