Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stated Wednesday that using eminent domain to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is “absolutely” permitted under the Constitution.
“It’s clear eminent domain is a power that is protected in the Constitution, that is created in the Constitution, precisely for public purposes,” Cruz said to Spectrum News. “Securing the border is a legitimate area for eminent domain where landowners would get reasonable and just compensation.”
President Donald Trump has floated the idea of seizing swaths of land from Texans residing on the border in order to construct a wall. The federal government has already begun to survey the Lone Star State and construction would require private citizens to surrender a portion of their property.
Former Texas Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke has been an outspoken critic of constructing any form of barricade on the border. The ex-congressman, who notably ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Cruz, referred to an existing chain-link fence in his hometown of El Paso as “bad enough.” The Democrat has insisted border security would be improved if Americans “ensure that we are maximizing the potential from everyone” and by “treating each other with respect and dignity.”
As one of O’Rourke’s last acts as a member of Congress, he tweeted on Dec. 28 a now-viral video criticizing the plan to build a border wall, which seemingly condemned the use of eminent domain. The video claimed a wall would demand the federal government “seize land from Americans through eminent domain” and “exile hundreds of thousands of acres of the U.S. to a no man’s land between the river and the wall.”
Interestingly, O’Rourke advocated for the use of eminent domain to take hundreds of homes away from many of low-income El Pasoans in order to build his father-in-law’s redevelopment project. While O’Rourke was an El Paso city councilman in the mid-2000s, he voted to approve the redevelopment of an El Paso barrio into a retail destination with shops and restaurants.
“Where eminent domain has been abused is, we have seen, government entities condemning private land to give it to another private company,” Cruz said.
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