Let’s just start off by saying that we don’t want to talk politics. We know exactly what happens when people talk about religion and politics. Especially, these days. So before we even start, know that we are not taking sides, just providing you with our weekly recipe of gossipy news, a touch of real estate, and a pinch of eminent domain.
The other day, we read that the Trump Administration is hiring 12 attorneys to seize land for the border wall with Mexico. Their job will be to fight landowners so the government can seize the property needed to build the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. We would put in more details about how many people this will effect, what the costs will be, and how long it will take, but those details are not available yet. The administration said it aims to acquire “hundreds or thousands of parcels of land” to construct the border wall.
If you’re a lawyer looking for a job, get those certifications ready and application pen out because there will be a whopping $2 million to hire 12 land acquisition attorneys at the Department of Justice. This is just for the “initial surge” of land seizures from holdout landowners who aren’t willing to part with their property on the government’s terms.
In April, Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security Committee estimated the wall will cost $70 billion after making projections using CBP numbers and plans provided by the administration. Those numbers, however, didn’t include the legal costs of paying to seize the land.
Government documents note that lawyers from the Department of Homeland Security will be contributing with “significant litigation support in defense of various challenges to the construction of the physical wall as well as in the condemnation of land along the southwest border.”
It is estimated that approximately two-thirds of the land along the border is owned by private landowners or U.S. states. Since this is an eminent domain blog and you know how it goes, you know that usually the government evaluates the land and then offers a market rate price. (Of course, if you are in NY State then you should call Sanchez & Polovetsky to help you out. Shameless plug, we know…) If the property owners refuse, the government can seize the land, yup, by eminent domain, and then the landowners can fight for more compensation through the judicial system.
The adventure has already begun! The government has restarted litigating several of these cases that have laid dormant for nearly a decade. For example, in Texas where 90 cases are still pending after the government moved to seize border land in 2007. It’s estimated that it will cost about $21 million to resolve the suits. We read that in one instance, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spent $78 million to get the land to build on just 211 miles of the southwest border, which took about 330 lawsuits.
Just because there is no budget, doesn’t mean the work hasn’t been started. There are already five prototypes of the border wall shown near completion along the U.S.- Mexico border near San Diego, California.
The first 74 miles of the border wall will cost approximately $1.6 billion, which has been requested by the President. If you remember, to get initial funding, back in October Trump said that the DACA program would be preserved if there was funding for the border wall.