The federal government is prepping to seize private Texas land in the Rio Grande Valley for the construction of new border protections, according to some reports. While many Texans support the construction of such a barrier, this move may be at best premature.
One of the least appealing traits of President Trump is his enthusiasm for eminent domain, the process by which the government appropriates private land for public use. Most Texas citizens understand that this process, while odious when you stand to lose your own property, makes sense when properly applied and accompanied by just compensation… at least in theory. However, as with most things involving government, it’s never content with the power granted to it, ever scheming to take more. And what was once a minor imposition on the property rights of law-abiding citizens has become a tyrannical bludgeon in the hands of Washington.
In 2005’s Kelo v. City of New London, in one of the worst miscarriages of justice, the Supreme Court even extended this definition to allow government seizures with intent to transfer it to private business. This effectively made government free to take your property if they thought another owner would give them more tax revenue than you. The land-mark decision has led to many such instances of greedy politicians forcing people off their property, giving that land to private, even foreign corporations that may or may not use it.
Like eminent domain, another similar power has also been used to leave states unable to access their own resources. Many presidents have been guilty of cavalier use of the Antiquities Act, but by far the worst abuser of this constitutionally questionable power was President Obama. During Obama’s time in office, his administration alone took “554,590,000 acres of land and sea out of use for private citizens and out of the deliberative proto prevent it from being developed.” This sort of thing is such a problem that today, states like “Oregon, Utah and Nevada, the majority of land is owned by the federal government.”
In Texas, we’re no stranger to Washington impositions. And although we recently reacquired Texas land that was previously seized by the federal government along the Red River, it was a rare reversal of federal overreach. In the past, we haven’t always been so lucky. As part of our agreement to enter the Union, Washington acquired Texas’ northern territories, and they’ve been whittling away at us ever since, both at sea and on land. Now, Washington has its sights set on the Rio Grande Valley.
In the current situation, Trump wants to use this power to build his wall. It was the hallmark of his presidential campaign, to build a yuge border wall between Mexico and the United States. However, in his first few years as president, Trump failed to secure permission and funding to do anything like he promised, only securing ”$1.6 billion in funding for about 65 miles of fencing.” Fencing is not a wall, 65 miles is nothing when you consider that the border is nearly 2000 miles long, $1.6 billion is only a small fraction of what is needed for Trump to deliver on his promise, and the odds aren’t great that any of those ducks will ever line up for the administration. Even so, the federal government is preparing to take away an unspecified acreage of land from Texas citizens though, currently, they can’t legally do anything with it.
The unsecure border is a real problem for Texas, and its unresolved status has negative implications on many levels for Texans. Something must clearly be done to check border incursions, the allowance of which has led to a humanitarian crisis and many violations of land-owner’s property rights. Nevertheless, for the Trump administration to just take the land before his plan has a legal green-light represents an abuse of the governmental power. If Texas really wants to see solutions to its border issues, ones that fix the problem and show respect for Texas’ property rights, it will have to take care of the problem itself, as an independent nation. Accepting the theft of Texas land by Washington, with pie-in-the-sky promises that the legality and funding for border protection will eventually follow, frankly, isn’t good enough for Texas.