Pamela Taylor’s home in Brownsville, Texas, sits in between the Rio Grande and the current border fence. Taylor, 88, voted for Donald Trump. But now, she faces the possibility that the man she voted for could take her land through eminent domain.
“As far as we’re concerned, the fence is not going to work. This fence is not working,” she said. “When you’re not here and you don’t know the area and then you say something, it’s best to get your ducks in a row.” If the administration were to present her a condemnation notice, she told me she would “definitely” take it to court.
Taylor is one of many landowners along the Texas-Mexico border who are preparing for a legal fight to keep their property. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act, authorizing the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration focused on states where most of the land belonged to the government. But in some areas, the government needed to acquire private property in order to build on it. Some landowners, unhappy with imposing barriers, protested. As Trump attempts to jumpstart the process of sealing the southern border, he will face similar resistance.
In January, Trump signed an executive order calling for the construction of a wall—a project estimated to cost as much as $21.6 billion, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Building a physical barrier along the border is a tall order: it stretches roughly 2,000 miles, and the topography in some areas can also pose a challenge. The territory that Trump intends to cover also includes private property—a factor that doesn’t appear to have gone unnoticed by the administration.