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Trump administration accelerates efforts to secure land for border wall: report

Trump administration accelerates efforts to secure land for border wall: report
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The Trump administration is ramping up efforts to secure land along the U.S.-Mexico border for construction of a wall by increasing the pace at which it brings lawsuits against private landowners, according to The New York Times.

In March, the administration filed 13 such lawsuits, the highest since Trump took office, according to information from the Texas Civil Rights Project that was first reported by the Times.

The push to nationalize private land has been ongoing since President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE's inauguration in 2017, but the acceleration of the process during the coronavirus pandemic has left some landowners feeling aggrieved, according to the Times.

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Steven Kobernat, a border landowner in Starr County, told the Times he believes the administration is accelerating its pace with an eye on November's general election.

“But here we are in a pandemic. We can’t meet — we can’t meet with our families. And then [the Department of Justice] DOJ says it’s time-sensitive in a time of pandemic. It’s just absurd,” Kobernat told the publication.

In an email to the Army Corps of Engineers and to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Kobernat pleaded for more time to consider "a mad rush" of federal purchase requests.

Acquisition of private land for wall construction is a particularly thorny issue in Texas, where a majority of land on the border is privately owned.

In other states, like Arizona, the Trump administration has also come into direct conflict with Native American tribes, who've complained of contractors destroying sacred sites and encroaching on traditional lands.

The Trump administration's aggressive approach comes at a time when the pandemic could leave border dwellers little recourse if they don't choose to sell.

“They’ve taken advantage of people sheltering in place. People have not been able to seek out attorneys,” Ricky Garza, a staff lawyer for the Texas Civil Rights Project, told the Times.