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Thoughts on a government land grab

Summary:
A Texas family that owns land on the Mexican border has received a “Declaration of Taking” from the federal government, according to a Texas Observer story published this week.It essentially gives the family a chance to accept compensation for the government’s seizure of about an acre of borderland.It’s very possible that’s for a Trumpian wall. The president’s budget blueprint requests “.6 billion in high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology, including funding to plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border,” and Politico reports another .5bn will be requested in a supplemental spending bill.The implied commitment to a physical wall is a step in the direction of a literal implementation of the promise that folks like Peter Thiel said

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A Texas family that owns land on the Mexican border has received a “Declaration of Taking” from the federal government, according to a Texas Observer story published this week.

It essentially gives the family a chance to accept compensation for the government’s seizure of about an acre of borderland.

It’s very possible that’s for a Trumpian wall. The president’s budget blueprint requests “$2.6 billion in high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology, including funding to plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border,” and Politico reports another $1.5bn will be requested in a supplemental spending bill.

The implied commitment to a physical wall is a step in the direction of a literal implementation of the promise that folks like Peter Thiel said should only be taken as a serious intent. Bad news for those who thought Trump’s promise of a border wall just meant, like, an invisible, virtual kind carried out by aerial surveillance, etc.

(There’s also an item in Trump’s budget for 20 lawyers to argue these borderland-seizure cases, as the New York Times notes.)

Some additional thoughts:

1. This process seems especially politically risky in Texas, where many residents like to say they’re Texan first and American second. They’re usually not joking. There’s a pledge of allegiance to the Texas flag that’s codified in state law.

2. Still, the Department of Homeland Security apparently has the authority to do this. It was granted to the Bush Administration back in 2006.

3. But $2,900 sounds kind of low for 1.22 acres of land, right?? That’s about the average monthly rent for a studio apartment/flat in the West Village of Manhattan.

4. What do you know, there’s an entire organisation of people who consult on rural land values in the US!

5. And they post their data online. The internet is great. There’s a 56-page report on trends in rural land values in Texas.

6. They have a per-acre estimate for the value of rangeland for Hidalgo, Willacy and Cameron Counties for 2015 — the land in question is in Hidalgo County.

7. It’s between $1,750 and $4000 per acre in that region.

8. That “low, low offer” was actually fairly reasonable, then.

9. That makes moving to Texas (with a tent) sound pretty appealing, right?

Related links:
Erica Grieder on the Texas model – Alphachat
What if Trump’s wall were solar powered? – FT Alphaville
Texans receive first notices of land condemnation for Trump’s border wall – Texas Observer
I’m not stuck in a liberal bubble anymore because I just watched all five seasons of Friday Night Lights – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

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Alexandra Scaggs
Alexandra Scaggs is a markets reporter for the Wall Street Journal in New York. She writes about the U.S. stock market and investment trends. She also covers the business of markets research, writing on the calls, personalities and moves of high-profile analysts and strategists. Ms. Scaggs graduated from Washington & Lee University with a degree in business journalism.

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