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Zolan Kanno-Youngs, New York Times, Dec. 26, 2019
"Eminent domain lawyers and scholars said in interviews that landowners along the border have limited options once they receive a request from the government. They can voluntarily allow the authorities to access and survey their land and, if officials decide they want it, accept the government’s offer. Or they can be taken to court where they can argue for higher compensation. But under the law, even before the landowners are paid in full, the government can begin construction. By using eminent domain powers, federal lawyers can argue in court that the construction of the wall is an emergency, which almost always results in the court granting the government physical possession of the land, according to Efrén C. Olivares, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project. The government can then begin building — even as landowners litigate for full pay for years." ... Becky Jones is preparing for a fight. The administration recently sent Ms. Jones, 69, and her family a letter saying that they were preparing to take them to court if they did not allow the government to survey their farmland for border wall construction. For Ms. Jones, the construction undercuts language in Congress’s 2019 spending bill that said land within the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge adjacent to her property would be exempt from the wall. She said the construction, which will run on the road alongside the refuge, will harm the wildlife she grew up admiring. “Forget deplorable Americans,” she said, “you’re disposable Americans if you happen to be on the south side of the wall.”