Udall, Heinrich Call For Investigation Of Trump Administration’s Efforts To Use Eminent Domain To Seize Privately Held Land To Build Ineffective And Expensive Southern Border Wall

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) yesterday joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in a letter to U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting that the U.S. Government Accountability Office investigate the Trump Administration’s efforts to exercise the power of eminent domain to seize privately held land to build a border wall at the southern border of the United States.
The letter follows the Senators’ January 2019 inquiry to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) demanding answers regarding the Trump Administration’s attempts to use eminent domain against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, TX, to build a border wall, and the Supreme Court’s decision in late June 2019, which allowed the Trump Administration to move forward with taking funding from the military to construct a border wall while litigation continues.
The Senators ask how much private land DHS must acquire in order to complete its planned southern border wall or barrier deployments, what public outreach DHS has engaged in with border communities regarding land acquisition and eminent domain, and what challenges DHS faces when acquiring private land along the southern border.
Earlier this year, Senators Heinrich and Udall introduced the Full Fair and Complete Exchange Act, legislation that would prohibit the federal government from taking possession of land for border infrastructure until all persons or entities entitled to compensation are remunerated in full. The bill ensures that the federal government provide compensation on a timely basis for land acquired for border infrastructure, and would require consultation and approval from relevant stakeholders, including tribes, for any acquired State land.
The full text of the letter can be found here.