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Thursday, January 10, 2008

DHS readying lawsuits over properties blocking path of US-Mexico border fence
Jaime Jansen at 9:25 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] is preparing over 100 court cases against landowners along the US-Mexico border who have refused to allow construction of a 670-mile border fence on their properties, DHS officials said Wednesday. DHS sent 135 letters to hold-out property owners [AP report] last month threatening court action if they did not comply, but only 33 landowners complied within the 30-day time period set forth in the letter. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said [remarks] last month that the government would not wait much longer for property owners to comply with the government requests to use their land. The government may not need to use all of the properties in question for the construction of the border fence and will consider alternative security protections such as lighting and more Border Patrol agents along the border, but is in the process of determining which properties it will need to purchase or seize through the power of eminent domain [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.

President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 [PDF text; JURIST report] in October 2006. The legislation authorizes the construction of approximately 700 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile US-Mexican border. Critics of the fence include locals in border communities, who feel that the the federal government has not addressed their concerns that a border fence would interfere with irrigation, harm wildlife, as well as disrupt Mexican consumers and investors that positively contribute to the local economy. In May, the International Boundary and Water Commission [official website] said that construction of the fence could violate a boundary treaty [JURIST report] between the United States and Mexico.

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