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Feds File Lawsuit to Build Stretch of the Southern Border Fence

The federal government on Monday filed an eminent domain lawsuit to gain access to land owned by a Texas city for purposes of additional construction of the U.S.-Mexico border fence.

The lawsuit against Eagle Pass, Texas, is the first of scores of fence-related condemnation suits expected to be filed by the Bush administration.

The Homeland Security Department wants to complete 370 miles of physical fencing by the end of 2008. A 2006 law signed by President Bush prescribed a grand total of 700 miles.

Last month the Homeland Security Department warned landowners in Texas, California and New Mexico that it would sue if not given access to property on which to build the fence. Some have granted access, but many have ignored the warning.

* * *
Here's a link to an AP article that provides much of the source material for this entry.

* * *
Is there a better "public use" for the invocation of the government's eminent domain powers than a fence along the Southern border?

I think not.


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Comments (37)

The only real justification... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

The only real justification that I can imagine for opposing a border fence on one's land is cutting off of river access. River access can be a valuable asset for property owners. A large fence along a river bank seems like a shame. In these cases alternative security could be explored.

The proposed fence "would deprive everyone along the river, on this side, the use of the river," said David Benn, 54, a longtime Brownsville resident and nature guide. "We won't be able to use it recreationally, we won't be able to put a kayak in the river or fish in the river."

Not to mention livestock care or irrigation. I feel sorry for these property owners caught in the midst of an international crossfire. I guess the Mexicans will have the whole river to themselves.

I think we should build the... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

I think we should build the fence on the other side of the river!

Let Mexico try and stop us.

Of course the fence will be... (Below threshold)

Of course the fence will be really effective stopping those 1/2 of illegal aliens who enter the US legally and just overstay their visas.

Bill,I know you ar... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:


I know you are not that obtuse.

The fence is only part of the solution.

Enforcement of existing laws is the other part.

In El Paso, the Rio Grande ... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

In El Paso, the Rio Grande isn't really much of a river -- you're lucky if it reaches your ankles.

Not only what SYB said, Bil... (Below threshold)

Not only what SYB said, Bill, but 1/2 if still a hell of alot better then what we are stopping now.

Yeah, this is legitimate us... (Below threshold)
LiveFreeOrDie Author Profile Page:

Yeah, this is legitimate use of eminent domain.

You know, I'm not for takings. But personally, I wish someone would move to take one of PFizer's drug patents for "the public good".

If they're going to take some poor dudes property, I think we should take theirs.

Eye for an Eye Nash Equilibrium.

Why even have a nation if w... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

Why even have a nation if we won't secure it? If this isn't a proper use of eminent domain, to secure our border, then what would be proper use? I supposed taking homes and giving the land to other private citizens in order to increase tax revenue for a city would be appropriate.

Note the sarcasm.

Is there a better ... (Below threshold)
kbiel Author Profile Page:
Is there a better "public use" for the invocation of the government's eminent domain powers than a fence along the Southern border?
Why yes. We could take the land for developers to build condominiums and malls. That would be "public use" right? At least that's what I learned from Justice Breyer.
I wasn't being obtuse, sarc... (Below threshold)

I wasn't being obtuse, sarcastic yes(like my blog says, commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks) when I questioned the effectiveness of a fence.

A fence without something to back it up(doubling our border patrol agents will leave us with how many men per mile of fence?) is a likely recipie for failure and more money wasted. I haven't studied the issue enough, some people have. Conservative blogger Steven Taylor writes about attempting to seal the southern border and its cost.

Bottom line- I'm leery of simple solutions. If the fence would really stop the illegal alien in flow, why are we only doing something about it now?

Fences are extremely effect... (Below threshold)

Fences are extremely effective in areas where there are populations on both sides of the border that allow people to quickly blend after an illegal crossing. San Diego is the prime example: as Duncan Hunter repeatedly noted in debates, the fence there stopped 90% of the illegal border-jumping.

In less-populated areas, fences will be less effective. The more rural and isolated the area, the less effective. The priority should be to build fences, therefore, in those areas where they are most effective FIRST. El Paso, where the Democratic Mayor is putting up resistance, would be at the top of my list.

Reality check: at any given point, something can happen to stop the construction. Democrats elected, money gets diverted, court decisions, etc. - stuff happens. We should therefore be building those miles of fencing which offer the biggest "bang for the buck" before worrying about Lonesome Dove and the Ponderosa.

If it is eventually necessary to fence those rural stretches, and eminent domain must be used (who gives up their property for free?), the "just compensation" must include not only payment for the per-acre value of the land seized, but also for the lack of access to resources where it occurs, and even for the loss of livelihood in cases where the taking has that effect.

San Diego is the prime e... (Below threshold)

San Diego is the prime example: as Duncan Hunter repeatedly noted in debates, the fence there stopped 90% of the illegal border-jumping.

In less-populated areas, fences will be less effective. The more rural and isolated the area, the less effective.

And that's where the border-crossing will move to (and where it did move due to the fence near San Diego, unless you believe illegal border crossing has gone down in the past ten years). The path of least resistance. Considering that most of the southern border is "less-populated," there's plenty of space for the traffic to flow.

A fence is quite simply a giant waste of money. It will not stop anything. Focusing efforts on employers and legal immigrants who overstay will be much more effective.

Why dont We just buy the gr... (Below threshold)

Why dont We just buy the great wall of China and plunk it down on the border.

I know you're just joking, ... (Below threshold)

I know you're just joking, but for one thing, the Great Wall 長城 is for the most part nonexistent or in a state of serious disrepair. The Chinese have rebuilt certain sections of it for tourism. Secondly, a stone wall is rather easy to climb when there are no archers around to stop you (it is difficult to get horses over it, which is the reason the Chinese built it.).

Yes we know how well the We... (Below threshold)

Yes we know how well the West Wall and Maginot lines worked in WW2.

Talking about WW2 was it just the movie, or did General Patton really say "Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man." ? I read a Patton biography once but that was 30 years ago.

I drew a picture for the ma... (Below threshold)

I drew a picture for the mayor of Eagle Pass. Check it out at http://myinnerscream.blogspot.com/2008/01/texas-town-wont-build-wall.html

A fence alone is not a solu... (Below threshold)

A fence alone is not a solution. The fense is an enabler to active border patrolling. If it doesn't stall them long enough to catch them at the fense, you know when and where they crossed so pursuit is more feesible, especially large groups.

But build a fense and forget about it? No.

Yes we know how well the... (Below threshold)
Master Shake:

Yes we know how well the West Wall and Maginot lines worked in WW2.

The Mexicans are crossing the border with panzers? Dang, it really is getting bad.

(Keep your hands up and step away from the bong....)

The Germans didn't use panz... (Below threshold)

The Germans didn't use panzers to take the Maginot line. They did an end run through Belgium. The French not learning from WWI when Germany did the same thing, and not build the line straight to the coast.

Some day we'll have 700 miles of fence. Some of that is going to be virtual, what ever that means. How long is the US-Mexico border? About 2,000 miles. Sounds almost like the maginot line but 70 years into the future.

Huckabee supports a fence a... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

Huckabee supports a fence also.
But then he goes on..

Can anyone here dispute that the Republican Party has used social issues as red meat for Republican evangelicals? Huckabee is, in the term of Texas Hold'em, going "All in" on social issues and immigration.

It appears that to the rank and file Republicans, immigration is a major issue. If this is so, how can McCain become the nominee?
Tancredo, who was the voice on immigration is supporting Mitt. Does that matter?
I am curious, which Republican candidate do you feel confident will take a position on immigration closest to yours and why?

Starting with 700 mile of f... (Below threshold)

Starting with 700 mile of fence doesn't mean that you can't add on later. Beside the purpose of barriers especially for the military is not to completely seal an area with the barriers but to direct your opponents' movement. The Maginot line work will except for the mistake stated in previous post. Also the French didn't adapt to developing technologies. They were stuck in the stagnant line philosophy instead of the maneuver philosophy.

The 700 miles of fence can direct traffic to barren desert where great distances can be easily patrol by aircraft. The fence like any barrier must have monitoring but it takes a great deal fewer bodies to do that.

The fence is not a stand alone solution but is a vital part in stopping or at least greatly reducing illegal border crossing. Cracking down on employers and government benefits are examples of other parts of the solution.

What if the Mexislamofascis... (Below threshold)

What if the Mexislamofascist hordes steal our catapult technology (like I stole this awesome joke from theonion.com)?

How about a tall, prison-st... (Below threshold)

How about a tall, prison-style, razor wire fence with a moat full of alligators. I'm sure the state of Florida would happy to make a donation.

Yeah, so the alligators ... (Below threshold)

Yeah, so the alligators kill the ones with ladders and thick rubber gloves! We could then collect their children and put them into orphanages run by pedophiles!

"...collect their childr... (Below threshold)

"...collect their children and put them into orphanages run by pedophiles!"

Okay, mine was a joke, but yours was....dude?!

Of course, this assumes tha... (Below threshold)

Of course, this assumes that the feds are actually going to build the fence this time.

I know you weren't being se... (Below threshold)

I know you weren't being serious, but let's not call it a "joke". What would the punchline be? That Mexicans are afraid of being eaten by alligators, or that many alligators live in Florida?

I'm sorry, I really can't r... (Below threshold)

I'm sorry, I really can't resist. Let me quote the late, great President Reagan: "Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!!" I really don't know who any of you guys are, but as a lower income, blue-coller guy who has traveled all around this country and picked up odd jobs in my youth, I have worked many horrible jobs right alongside blatantly illegal Mexicans. From my own personal experience: When you relax with that glass of wine after work, unless it's imported, realize a migrant worker picked the grapes. Or, really any of the food you consume that comes from California or Florida. When you run on your NordicTrack treadmill, realize a team of mostly illegal Mexicans assembled it in a place that can only be described as a sweatshop, right here on our soil. When you cut into your medium-rare steak at dinnertime, realize that the beef packing plant I worked at for a bit was raided last year and lost over half its workforce in one day. This plant is part of the largest beef processing conglomerate in America. In my wanderings, I have seen first-hand what this issue is really about, at the core. Not only do every single one of you rely on and profit from the illegal workforce in this country in many little ways in your lives, but your actions can only hurt people who work incredibly hard for money most of us would scoff at. We NEED a guest worker program. This is the only thing I have ever agreed with President Bush on.

"What would the punchlin... (Below threshold)

"What would the punchline be?"

The emphasis is the exaggeration of the wall to begin with, that enforcement of the law and border patrol is just important.

Yeah, those walls never wor... (Below threshold)

Yeah, those walls never work.
Well, except for the Maginot Line mentioned above, which the Germans avoided by going through the Low Countries.
And, well, except for the ones the Israelis put up that stopped terrorism cold. Now the Palestinians can only shoot their un-aimed rockets at towns like Sderot instead of sending aimed suicide bombers onto buses and having them stand next to pregnant women with strollers before detonating.

The Great Wall of China failed because the invaders just bribed the people guarding it.

I understand illegal aliens can be nice people, I worked in the restaurant business in Boston so I've worked with plenty. But they're breaking the law. We are a country of laws, as soon as people stop respecting the laws our little experiment in self-rule will crumble. I understand we've made it a hundred years longer than Ben Franklin thought we would, but how about we keep it going for a while longer?

I do have one question for you people who are in favor of illegal immigrants, why do you hate low-income types? Is it because most of them are black and brown? I mean, why should an employer pay a low-income worker minimum wage or a little over when they can pay less to illegal immigrants and save on paperwork as they can avoid all that useless "worker's comp" and "unemployment insurance" stuff. And, of course, they can treat them like slaves. What are they going to do? Complain to ICE?

And illegal immigration gets all the people with gumption out of shit-hole countries where they might actually try to make it into less of a shit-hole while sending money back into the shit-hole. That's just win-win for the rulers of those countries. Why do you think Mexico is so into sending their illegals into our country? They make a crap-load out of oil but the people there are mired in poverty.
Yup, people who are for illegal immigration are hurting poor people (often black and brown), the illegal immigrants and the people left behind in the countries they immigrated from (usually brown) and yet I'm called the racist for wanting people to obey our laws.

I do have one question f... (Below threshold)

I do have one question for you people who are in favor of illegal immigrants

Other than their employers, who exactly do you think is "in favor of illegal immigrants?"

Wow, I had actually penned ... (Below threshold)

Wow, I had actually penned a response to mantis' attempt to get me off into irrelevancies.
Good show.

Other than their employe... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Other than their employers, who exactly do you think is "in favor of illegal immigrants?"

Democrats looking for votes. Any *body* will do. Legal or illegal, dead or alive.

Hence the stiff opposition to any reliable form of voter verification.

Wow, I had actually penn... (Below threshold)

Wow, I had actually penned a response to mantis' attempt to get me off into irrelevancies.

Well, you typed several paragraphs dealing with "people who are for illegal immigration." It's interesting that you can't even identify who those people are.

I have decided not to respo... (Below threshold)

I have decided not to respond to people who aren't looking to push the debate forward, you are just trying to argue semantics.
And yes, I won't be responding to you ever again.

Hey, if you're content to a... (Below threshold)

Hey, if you're content to ask questions of phantoms ("I do have one question for you people who are in favor of illegal immigrants"), more power to you.

Hillary said in reference t... (Below threshold)

Hillary said in reference to an illegal alien she was talking to: "No woman is illegal".






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