Eminent Domain and the Texas Border Wall
Most people that I have talked to about the proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico Border have been surprised to hear that the federal government does not already own the land necessary to build the wall. The next question that I receive is: well, does that mean that they have to take private landowners’ property away from them?
Well, yes, under the guise of eminent domain.
Eminent domain is the method by which the federal government will be required to pay the local borderlands property owners “just compensation” for the land they plan to use for the proposed border wall. “Just compensation” is measured by the fair market value of the land at the time of the taking. Exxon Pipeline Co. v. Zwahr, 88 S.W.3d 623, 627 (Tex. 2002). Market value is the price the property will bring when offered for sale by one who desires to sell, but is not obliged to sell, and is bought by one who desires to buy, but is under no necessity of buying. City of Harlingen v. Estate of Sharboneau, 48 S.W.3d 177, 182 (Tex. 2001). The owner of the property can testify to its market value, even if he could not qualify to testify about the value of the property belonging to someone else. Porras v. Craig, 675 S.W.2d 503, 504 (Tex. 1984); see also Redman Homes, Inc. v. Ivy, 920 S.W.2d 664, 669 (Tex. 1996).