Administration

Trump admin preparing to seize private land for border wall: report

The White House has begun preparations to seize private land so that construction of the border wall can continue.

A pair of officials within the Trump administration told NBC News that Jared Kushner will meet with military and administration officials to discuss next steps in acquiring the private land.

The officials also told the news network that counsel from the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice had already prepared letters of rights of entry to notify the landowners that government officials will be accessing their property to appraise the land, test the soil and conduct land surveys.

Typically in eminent domain cases, the government agrees upon a price for the land before seizing it, but the Trump administration has yet to settle on a price.

However, the White House could also try to act under the Declaration of Taking Act in federal court in Texas, NBC reports. 

The law would allow the administration to move through the process of acquiring the land more quickly, and the negotiations between the government and the landowners would take place after the land had been transferred to the government.

However, the Declaration of Taking Act is only supposed to be used in emergencies. While President Trump earlier in the year did declare the border situation a national emergency, a federal judge ruled last month that Trump broke federal law by calling a national emergency in order to transfer millions from military funding to the construction of the border wall.

"They are probably going to get [the land] in the end, but they are asking the court to dispense with the process that is typically afforded to landowners," Texas Civil Rights Project lawyer Ricky Garza told NBC.

"We want to make sure that all of our clients are treated with basic human decency and with respect that's been sorely lacking in the past by this administration," he continued.

Garza is representing the five landowners whose property is in question.

"I still think we're on track to get the land we need for 450 miles [of new wall]," Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told the press Thursday.

The Hill reached out to the White House and the Justice Department for comment on the development.

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