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Texas landowners bracing for legal fight as Trump pushes plan to build border wall

Plan could impact landowners living in Rio Grande Valley for generations

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's arrival in McAllen, Texas, Thursday was met with opposition from some residents along the border who say they will fight any attempt the federal government makes to purchase their land or take it away through eminent domain, according to The Associated Press. Some have already hired lawyers in anticipation of a legal battle.

Why?

"You could give me a trillion dollars and I wouldn't take it," Eloisa Cavazos, who owns land along the Rio Grande river that separates the U.S. and Mexico in Texas. "It's not about money."

The government is reportedly surveying land along the Texas border and plans to start construction on the wall next month, the outlet reported.

The president has said he could declare a national emergency to fund the wall if Congress fails to reach an agreement.

According to legal experts cited by the AP, Trump will not likely be able to waive eminent domain if he declares a national emergency. Under eminent domain, the government must demonstrate the land is needed for public use and offer compensation to landowners.

The wall in the McAllen region is a priority for the Department of Homeland Security because it's the busiest area for illegal border crossings, the report states.

On Wednesday, the DHS reported that it detained 27,518 adults and children traveling together on the southern border in December. The figure marked "a new monthly high."

And in November, more than 23,000 parents and children were caught illegally crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley, the report states. The figure is more than triple what it was compared to last year.

The Trump administration wants to build "more than 215 new miles of wall, including 104 miles in the Rio Grande Valley and 55 miles near Laredo," according to the report. Homeland Security officials say the wall would curtail the number of Central American families attempting to illegally enter the U.S.

Other security efforts have included the president sending troops to the border in response to a migrant caravan that made headlines prior to the November election. A border security spokeswoman told the AP that the troops had a visible presence in the Rio Grande Valley but closed their base camp on Dec. 22.

Any chance of an agreement?

The president and congressional Democrats are gridlocked over how to implement further security measures along the border, which ultimately led to a budget stalemate and a partial government shutdown now entering its third week.

Trump met with Democrats Wednesday in the Situation Room. The meeting reportedly ended with Trump walking out after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reiterated that Democrats would not support the president's request for more than $5 billion in funding for a wall.

In March, Congress funded "33 miles of walls and fencing in Texas," the report states. The government also has announced plans to cut through private land. Among the landowners are families who have lived in the Rio Grande Valley for generations.

One last thing…
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