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Border Wall Will Require a Huge Eminent Domain Effort

HOUSTON –The proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border represents one of the largest eminent domain undertakings in the nation’s recent history, according to Deal Sikes & Associates, a Houston-based firm active in eminent domain counseling and representation.

The border from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas spans almost 2,000 miles. Some 650 miles of the border has already been fortified with fencing and barriers and some sections of the border have terrain that serves as a natural barrier.

“The creation of the border wall will require the acquisition of a significant amount of privately owned property, much of it in Texas,” said Matthew Deal of Houston-based Deal Sikes and Associates. “As stipulated by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the land owners must receive just compensation if the land is taken through eminent domain for public use.”

Through eminent domain, private property has been acquired for highways, seaports, schools, hospitals and other public uses.

“The process should begin with careful evaluation and analysis of land values before the private land owner is approached with an offer to buy the property. Mishandling the initial contact can result in contentious negotiations or prolonged litigation,” Deal said.

The federal Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged the real estate acquisition and litigation problems in a 2009 report on earlier efforts to construct border fencing. “Gaining access rights and acquiring non-federal property has delayed the completion of fence construction and may increase the cost beyond available funding,” the federal report states.

“While our firm takes no stance on immigration issues, we do emphasize that the Constitution clearly defines the rights of property owners, including ranchers, farmers and border-town merchants, to receive just compensation for land taken by the government,” said Mark Sikes, principal with Deal Sikes & Associates. “The process also requires consideration of the impact the taking has on the value of property owner’s remaining real estate.”

March 7, 2017 Realty News Report Copyright 2017

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