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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Report: Trump aimed to seize 991 more tracts of private land, mostly in South Texas, for border wall

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 12:50 PM

click to enlarge President Donald Trump reviews U.S. Customs and Border Protection's wall prototypes in Otay Mesa, California. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / U.S. WHITE HOUSE
  • Wikimedia Commons / U.S. White House
  • President Donald Trump reviews U.S. Customs and Border Protection's wall prototypes in Otay Mesa, California.
The White House planned to acquire 991 additional plots of private land, primarily in South Texas, to finish building President Donald Trump's much-vaunted border wall, according to a new federal watchdog report.

The Trump administration aimed to buy or seize a total of nearly 5,300 acres as part of the land grab, according to a Government Accountability Office study first reported on by CBS News. Those seizures would be in addition to 135 plots of private land it's already snapped up through July of this year.

Senate Democrats, who requested the GAO probe, blasted the land seizures in a statement to CBS and called on the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to halt its acquisitions as the country transitions into a new presidential administration.

"As Congress's independent watchdog confirms, this administration is still actively seizing the private land of farmers and ranchers to build Trump's wasteful, divisive border wall," Sens. Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich said in the statement.

The Justice Department filed 109 lawsuits between January 2017 and this August to permanently seize or gain access landowners' property, according to the GAO report. Administration lawyers also plan to file 100 more suits to take property from private owners.

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