Trump’s border wall faces legal battles over private land

Before construction of President Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border can begin, the government must acquire land.

Before the construction of President Donald Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border can begin, the government must acquire land along the border that is currently privately owned.

The move might lead to legal battles with Americans such as the Flores family in Los Ebanos, Texas.

They settled along the Rio Grande River, just across from Mexico, more than 100 years ago. 

The border in this area has been a hot spot for unauthorised crossings in the past, with migrants using rafts to cross the river.

Aurora Flores Trigo is among 58 heirs to her grandmother’s land.

In January, she received a letter entitled a “Declaration of Taking” from the US government stating it was going to seize nearly 5,000 square metres in order to build the border wall.

The letter offered $2,900 in compensation, about the price of a used car.

“If we divide that number to 58, we’re going to get 50 dollars each,” Flores told Al Jazeera.

READ MORE: Who is really paying for Donald Trump’s border wall?

The land also has sentimental value to the family. A tree marks the place where Flores’ grandfather died.

In the US, the government has power to take over private property for compelling public reasons.

Trump’s budget includes hiring 20 attorneys dedicated to border land acquisition, a sign that the administration is ratcheting up for a legal fight against resistant landowners.

“Whatever he’s doing, he’s doing it for the best of the American people. Well, he’s destroying some of us,” Flores said.