Feds paying up to $870,000 an acre for border land for wall

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The federal government has paid as much as $870,000 to take ownership of private land along the border in Texas for space to build President Trump’s border wall, according to a new watchdog report released this week.

The Government Accountability Office said more than 50 such takings have been completed, and dozens more are still in the works, even as the administration prepares for an expected change in control in two months.

All of the property has been acquired in Texas.

In at least 50 more cases, the government has filed court documents to gain access to land for surveying work or other non-permanent types of activities.

Top Democrats this week demanded Homeland Security stop any work on future takings, saying presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden is expected to cancel wall work.

“As Congress’ independent watchdog confirms, this administration is still actively seizing the private land of farmers and ranchers to build Trump’s wasteful, divisive border wall,” said the Democrats, led by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the party’s floor leader.

Homeland Security is eyeing a total of 1,016 pieces of private property, of 3,752 acres, for wall construction under its purview. Of those, 123 have been acquired, at an average cost of about $13,000 per acre. The highest rate came on some land in far southern Texas, at $870,261 per acre.

Defense Department money is also being used for a smaller number of takings.

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