Building a border wall would require seizing enormous amounts of land from thousands of landowners through eminent domain. This would take years to happen – if it ever did – because there would be a tsunami of lawsuits and resistance. An emergency declaration won’t help Trump either. First off, Trump has delayed so long in doing so that it clearly isn’t an emergency. Second, Trump doesn’t have the legal authority to seize land by doing so.
The legal analysis here is relatively simple. The president does not have the constitutional or statutory authority to unilaterally declare an emergency under these facts, seize private land, and spend money to build a wall. The constitutional question was settled during the Korean War. At the height of the conflict — when the United States was locked in a grueling land conflict with hundreds of thousands of Chinese and North Korean troops — President Truman attempted to “take possession of and operate most of the nation’s steel mills” to avoid a strike by the United Steelworkers of America.
The necessity of steel to modern military operations is too obvious to require explanation, but the Supreme Court still blocked the president’s takeover.
With the president’s authority constitutionally constrained in a time of actual war, President Trump won’t have greater power when the “foe” isn’t the Chinese Army but instead a caravan of poor, unarmed Hondurans.
Texas ranchers with land on the border are generally opposed to a border wall. Most are probably Republicans too. Sharp thinking there, Donny.
Many Texans who live along the U.S.-Mexico border support President Donald Trump, but their affection for the New York real estate mogul-turned-politician comes with a caveat:
“Trump has done some good things with immigration, but he’s 100 percent wrong about the wall,” said Dob Cunningham, 83, a lifelong rancher and retired Border Patrol agent who owns hundreds of acres abutting the border in Quemado, north of Eagle Pass. “I haven’t found anybody — and I know people from Nogales [Arizona] to Brownsville — who wants that wall.”
Tohono O’odham land
Also, part of the Arizona / Mexico border is on Tohono O’odham land which is in both countries. It is completely unforgiving desert with minimal border control now. And it is their land. Trump can’t just order a border wall built there.
“Our longstanding experience tells us that building a physical wall on or near the reservation will not achieve the objective of securing the border in our area,” said Verlon Jose, vice chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation.
Jose’s comments came during a meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday.
He said building a border wall through the reservation will change the tribe’s culture.
“A wall that does not allow our members reasonable passage back and forth fundamentally interferes with our own right to our religion and our culture and practices,” said Jose.