The Trump administration is aggressively seizing more land under the principle of “eminent domain” in order to pave the way for a new border wall along the U.S.-Mexico boundary.
According to reports Friday, the administration has filed 29 eminent domain lawsuits related to construction of what is anticipated to be a $21.6 billion border wall project to reduce illegal immigration.
Those filings are up from 11 in each of the past two years, according to federal court records cited by CNN.
All but four of this year’s filings were in Texas.
Under the principle of eminent domain, the federal government can seize private lands for public use while also compensating the landowner.
“Unfortunately, the bottom line with this litigation is the government has a right to take the land,” Paul Gaytan, an attorney and board member of the Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, told CNN.
“The only question is: What’s fair compensation?” Gaytan asked. “What’s the value of that land?
“How do you put a price on this native habitat and the purpose for which it was to be used?” he added.
The group filed suit against the Trump administration after it filed an eminent domain actions in July for 72 acres along the banks of the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.
Building a border wall was a primary campaign pledge President Donald Trump made during his 2016 campaign, and has been widely credited for helping him defeat Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.
The first new wall construction of the president’s term began last month in the Rio Grande Valley.