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During his improbable campaign run, President Donald J. Trump exhorted his acolytes with “Who’s gonna pay for the wall?”
News about his proposed, controversial border wall regularly makes daily headline news. But few realize that to construct the Mexico-United States border wall, the U.S. government must take private property from thousands of U.S. citizens. To acquire enough land to build the wall, the federal government will need to invoke its eminent domain powers.
Eminent domain is the government’s power to take private property for public use. That is a fundamental constitutional right: The U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment guarantees that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Condemnation is the formal process by which the government exercises eminent domain.
In 2006, the last time the federal government seized land to erect a U.S.-Mexico border fence, it spent more than $78 million on 600 parcels. Then-President George W. Bush signed into law the Secure Fence Act, which aimed to stop illegal crossings by vehicles and on foot. But ultimately the federal government only built 700 miles of wall and fencing, mainly on federal land in California and Arizona. To erect the now-proposed border wall, the federal government needs more then 1,200 miles of property along the border, most of which Texas landowners privately own.
During his campaign, the now-President misleadingly said that property owners are paid “a fortune” for their land. That is simply not true. In their initial offers, government officials typically undervalue property; if the landowner disagrees, then the government exercises its eminent domain powers. After that, the landowner is left fighting a lengthy court battle to receive just compensation.
Valuation is usually tricky, requiring expert appraisers to weigh in on factors such as:
These present complex issues. Most landowners subject to condemnation need a good land use/condemnation lawyer to help protect their rights and maximize their compensation.
If you or someone you know owns land that the government may try to take, don’t delay. The law may entitle you to substantially more compensation. Skilled negotiation by experienced eminent domain lawyers can often increase the purchase price for your property.
Trust the experienced Indiana and Illinois lawyers at Sever Storey. Call us right away at (888) 318-3761, or contact us confidentially. We will protect you, preserve your rights, and ensure your fair treatment. Our national network of seasoned condemnation lawyers understands landowner damages and know how to best present your case. Let us help you.
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