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Trump’s militarized land seizure for border wall is more complicated than ‘I can do it if I want’

By Gerald S. Dickinson, The Hill

President Trump recently announced he could invoke national emergency powers to divert military funds to build his long-promised border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, since Congress won’t give him $5 billion in funding. He said he would grab the land “under the military version” of eminent domain “fairly quickly” — the Fifth Amendment power to seize private property for a public use upon just compensation.

But Trump’s threat of using the military to acquire land for a massive federal project is nothing new or extraordinary. What is extraordinary, however, is Trump’s assertion that he can unilaterally order the military to build the wall, including seizing land, by declaring a national emergency without statutory authorization, let alone evidence of a legitimate emergency.

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Forget funding the wall, Trump needs the land first

By Gerald S. Dickinson, The Hill

On Tuesday evening, President Trump threatened to shutdown the government over funding for his border wall proposal. He thundered, “Build that wall… the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”

But the Democrats are not the obstructionists. The main obstruction is the land. Congress shouldn’t be clamoring about funding the wall — they should be looking to prior federal land acquisitions for major projects as evidence of the impediments that lie ahead.