DOJ Budget Ramps Up Funding for Eminent Domain ‘Land Acquisition’ in Potential Effort to Clear Way for Border Wall
Ian Mason, Breitbart, May 23, 2017
Tuesday’s Department of Justice budget proposal asks Congress for $1.8 million to “meet litigation, acquisition, and appraisal demands during the construction along the border between Mexico and the United States.”
The money will be used to devote 20 new staff members, including 12 attorneys, to the Environmental and Natural Resources Division’s Land Acquisition Section (LAS). This small section of the DOJ handles litigation that arises when the federal government uses its “eminent domain” power to seize land for public projects.
The new money and staff is to be devoted to the southern border, where according to an overview released by the Department, just two LAS attorneys are currently working with a budget of only $329,000. The proposal represents a six-times increase in attorneys and a six-times increase in funding for LAS assistance with construction along the border.
Wall construction and the decision to purchase of the land necessary for it is not typically seen as a part of the DOJ’s mission. Tuesday’s budget proposals for border security and the Department of Homeland Security do, in fact, ask Congress for billions of dollars in funding increases. Up to $1.6 billion is claimed to be devoted to “a physical wall” along the southern border. A Department of Justice press official confirmed that decisions as to which land to acquire for border security purposes would most likely be made at DHS.
Other big-ticket immigration enforcement requests for DOJ included $75 million to fund the 75 new immigration judges and their nearly 400 staff attorneys and support staff previously announced to deal with the massive backlog of pending removal cases. This will represent a nearly 25% increasing in federal immigration judges at the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The first of this new wave of immigration judges was sworn in earlier this month.