Homeowners along the Rio Grande have started to receive letters from the Justice Department, seeking to claim their land under eminent domain, paving the way for a border wall championed by President Donald Trump that does not have fans on the ground or in Washington D.C, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
“He wants to take money from programs that Texans actually need, and use it to hire 20 new lawyers," Congressman Henry Cuellar tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI. "Those lawyers’ entire jobs will be to take private property away from American landowners on the border, so the President can build his arbitrary border wall."
Plans to erect a border wall are part of the budget plan rolled out this week by the White House. It includes $4.1 billion through next year for construction. "The request would fund efforts to plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border, and make other critical investments in tactical border infrastructure and technology," according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security. "The request also proposes funding to increase immigration detention capacity, which is necessary to ensure the removal of illegal aliens from the United States."
The department, in plans to contractors, says the wall will be 30 feet tall and made entirely of concrete. That's drawing worry from environmental groups, who have concerns on how it will affect land along the Rio Grande.
Joe Nicol of the Sierra Club tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI, the wall in its current form is a dam that's not being called a dam. In flood plains, he says, it would stop water from draining back into the river.
"You are deflecting water that would be spreading out, making flooding worse," he explains.The Texas Border Coalition is less worried about the environmental impacts and more worried the wall won’t stop the problem.
Chairman J.D. Salinas said in a statement that they want more boots on the ground, including 5,000 new customs agents.
“The president should also recognize the greatest threat to border security are the international drug cartels who smuggle most of their heroin and methamphetamine through the legal border crossings. We must improve the infrastructure, technology and communications at legal border crossings used by Customs agents to stop drug trafficking and facilitate legitimate trade and travel."