/ Modified aug 28, 2013 12:46 p.m.

Border Patrol Uses Eminent Domain for Land to Build Security Tower

US attorney says public purpose for property taken is to ensure agency is able to properly secure border.

The U.S. Border Patrol has decided it wants to use a slice of Tony Sedgwick’s land. Not much, a quarter of an acre. He owns 700 acres. But in court papers filed by federal prosecutors, the agency says it needs the land to build a border security tower.

“This quarter of an acre is not any quarter of an acre. They have of course cherry picked the highest and most visible place," Sedgwick said.

So the U.S. Attorney’s Office is using eminent domain laws requiring Sedgwick to let the Border Patrol use the land.

The court filing signed by U.S. Attorney John Leonardo read, "The public purpose for which said property is taken is to construct, install, operate, and maintain a border security tower, along with all necessary and related structures and roads, designed to help secure the United States border within the state of Arizona."

The government paid him $6,603. Sedgwick says he wants $29,000. But he’s not optimistic he’s going to get it.

In the early 1990s, Sedgwick leased the Border Patrol parts of his property for about $350 a year. In the mid-2000s, the price had gone up to $500 a year but the agency stopped paying it. Then, Sedgwick says, he received the notice of condemnation this summer. The Border Patrol wants his quarter of an acre and also wants a 2.5 acre easement so government vehicles can access the hill.

Using eminent domain, the Border Patrol is also seizing land belonging to Sedgwick’s neighbors. Just how many neighbors, the agency has not said. The Border Patrol began taking contractor bids this year to build a network of towers along the Nogales border in the general area where Sedgwick's property sits.

Border Patrol officials declined to be interviewed for this story.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona