Eminent Domain Could be Used for Border Fence

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EL PASO, Texas -- The U.S. Homeland Security department has issued a written ultimatum to South Texas land owners opposing plans to build a border fence.

The letter sent this month to the property owners foreshadows the possible federal use of eminent domain to take land for border fence construction.

The letter says that if the feds deem a piece of land necessary for border fence construction, they'll try to negotiate a sale with owners. But the letter warns that if the government can't reach a deal, it may go to court to "seek title and possession, and the court will determine fair market value."

Homeland Security released a copy of the notice Wednesday to The Associated Press.

The letter also informs property owners that Homeland Security will obtained court orders allowing it access to private land if owners continue to refuse that access by surveyors and other workers.