Sending Office: Honorable Maxine Waters
Cosponsor the Border Property Protection Act
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Endorsed by: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Public Citizen
Please join me in cosponsoring the Border Property Protection Act, which prevents the administration from using eminent domain to seize private property from landowners along the southern border, including if the taking is done in furtherance of
the president’s February 15, 2019 national emergency declaration.
A true emergency is when an unanticipated and dangerous event occurs, which necessitates immediate action. There is no such emergency on the southern border. Since 2000, the number of arrests for illegal border crossings has decreased approximately 75 percent,
putting arrests at historically low levels. Trump himself admitted as much when he remarked, in reference to his national emergency declaration, that he “didn’t need to do this.” No problem can be considered
an emergency if it does not necessitate immediate rectification.
A troubling byproduct of the president’s national emergency declaration is the administration’s reported plan to seize private property along the southern border in order to build a wall. The federal government has a long, disturbing, and arguably illegal
history of seizing property from landowners for questionable projects in exchange for questionable compensation. A Pro Publica and Texas Tribune report found that, in 2007 alone, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) filed more than 360 eminent domain
lawsuits against border state property owners, involving thousands of acres of land, in California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. At the time, it was done to build border barriers.
The report further found that DHS has a history of circumventing “laws designed to help landowners receive fair compensation. The agency did not conduct formal appraisals of targeted parcels. Instead, it issued low-ball offers.”
Moreover, the wealthier the landowner, the greater his or her compensation: “wealthier property owners who could afford lawyers negotiated deals that, on average, tripled the opening bids from Homeland Security. Smaller and poorer landholders took whatever
the government offered.”
This behavior is unconscionable, and reports indicate that Trump will likely initiate eminent domain proceedings if he is allowed to build his wall pursuant to his national emergency declaration. These Americans
worked hard to cultivate their rightfully owned land to the benefit of their families and businesses. We cannot allow this president to seize what is, for many, their only asset.
I urge you to join me in cosponsoring this legislation. If you would like the text of the bill, a summary, or have any other questions, please contact Patrick Fergusson on my staff at
Patrick.Fergusson@mail.house.gov. To sign on, please
fill out this form.
Member of Congress
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