In declaring a national emergency to build a border wall, President Trump described the move as the fastest path to construction. But a variety of legal issues could delay wall construction for years and even derail it entirely. To start with, when there is Congressional authorization, the federal government can take land for an authorized project. This proposed taking is not authorized by Congress. Far from it, Congress has indicated that it is absolutely opposed to the project. Trump is attempting to do an end run around Congress by declaring a national emergency; something which exists only in his mind.
The vast majority of the border property in Texas is privately owned. Therefore, the land must be taken by eminent domain. A national emergency does not provide the authority for eminent domain.
One thing is certain, Texans are not going to take the attempt to condemn for a border well. Not only are they opposed to the method of acquiring the land, but they are also concerned about the strain it would cause on the relationship between the United States and Mexico, Texas’ largest trading partner.
As Representative Vincente Gonzalez stated, “Seizing lands across the southwestern border for President Trump’s border wall would encroach on private property rights, lead to economic and agricultural losses, inflame U.S.-Mexico relations, infringe on the property rights of Native Americans, endanger public lands and wildlife, create flood hazards and fail to deter illegal immigration. President Trump is moving into uncharted territory with his emergency powers utilization, which I am sure will not be met with open arms.”
Apparently, some 90 lawsuits involving landowners opposing the federal seizure of their property in South Texas remain open from 2008. And, these takings were authorized by Congress.
Texas is also home to some of the best eminent domain lawyers in the Country. Mr. Trump would do well to remember the Alamo.