Border State Senators Introduce Bill To Prevent Trump Administration From Unilaterally Seizing Private Land For Border Wall

Heinrich, Harris, Feinstein, Udall Legislation Would Increase Transparency and Consultation on Use of Eminent Domain for Border Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 30, 2019) – Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) 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.

President Trump has repeatedly threatened to declare a state of emergency so he could use executive authority to build a wall along the southern border. Recent reports show that the administration is staffing up for an increase in eminent domain property seizures, calling into question the impact of using eminent domain to build a border wall.

“Close to 70 percent of land along our southern border belongs to entities other than the federal government," said Senator Heinrich. "Before any border wall proposal moves forward, we need to mandate consultation with stakeholders, increase transparency, and ensure that landowners are properly compensated before the government takes possession of their property to build new border infrastructure.”

“The president’s vanity project of a wall is a waste of taxpayer money and fails to combat trafficking by transnational gangs,” said Senator Harris. “As a border state Senator, I’m concerned that there are insufficient protections for border community residents against this administration’s potential attempts to seize their homes and lands. This bill is an important step forward to protect the rights of residents of our border communities and would provide a necessary check on the executive.”

“For President Trump to fulfill his campaign promise to build a 2,000 mile border wall, the federal government would need seize private land from farmers and ranchers across multiple states. It would be grossly unfair to take Americans’ land away from them for an unnecessary wall when there are better ways to address border security. Our bill would ensure that these landowners are appropriately compensated before their land could be taken,” said Senator Feinstein.

"New Mexico landowners, including many whose families have lived and worked on the border for generations, are at risk from the Trump administration using eminent domain to seize their property for a wasteful and unpopular border wall. Homes could be confiscated, farms and livelihoods ruined, and neighbors cut off from one another under this administration's thoughtless land grab. We need to protect New Mexico's way of life and stand up for our state's proud border communities against out-of-touch attacks from this administration," said Senator Udall.

A copy of the bill is available here.