Trump administration sends letters seeking permission to survey private land on border

The Border Wall

President Donald Trump tours a section of the southern border wall, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Otay Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNN) — The Trump administration has sent letters to dozens of homes in Texas and other border states, seeking permission to survey their land for future border barriers.

That’s according to two U.S. defense officials.

An army spokeswoman said the right of entry letter, if signed by the property owner, lets the government go on private land to conduct environmental assessments, property surveys, and other work.

If not signed, the Department of Justice may order court-ordered access to the property.

The move comes as the administration tries to ramp up construction of border barriers in areas that are privately owned.

Generally, the government is allowed to take over privately owned land for public use using eminent domain, and attempts to pay a fair price for it.

Officials said the projects on the land being assessed would be using pentagon funds the Trump administration redirected from various military construction projects.

So far, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has updated about 78 miles of existing border walls.

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