Buying up private land along the U.S.-Mexico border may be one of the biggest obstacles to President Donald Trump's call for a "big, beautiful" wall, and in Texas, only a handful of land has been purchased since he took office in 2017.
So far, the administration has only built 93 miles of new wall, most of it on federal land to replace dilapidated or vehicle barriers, according to Customs and Border Protection statistics, casting some doubt on whether the goal of 450 miles of new wall will be up by 2021, reports The New York Times.
“It’s hard right now to say whether we’re still going to meet that goal,” acting CBP commissioner Morgan told The Times, "but I'm confident we're going to be close."
However, buying up land for the wall is proving difficult. Out of the 162 miles of wall that is slated to run through Southern Texas, 144 miles of property along its route is privately owned, according to CBP, and the Trump administration has acquired three miles of that since 2017.
One property owner, Richard Drawe, told The Times ha finally agreed to sell land on his property to the government, rather than get engaged in a faceoff that will end up with the property being taken through eminent domain.
According to eminent domain lawyers and scholars, landowners have little choice once they get a request from the government for their land, and even once they come to an agreement, the government can start construction even before landowners are paid in full, according to Efrén Olivares, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project.
After President George W. Bush signed a bill to begin installing fencing in 2006, the federal government brought more than 300 cases against Texas landowners, with 46 of those cases still pending.
The Trump administration is pursuing those cases and has reached a settlement to acquire the land of most of the other property owners. In addition, many landowners voluntarily allowed the government to have access to their land.
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