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house Bill H.R. 440

Should Private Property Owners Be Fairly Compensated If Homeland Security Takes Their Property?

Argument in favor

The use of eminent domain to take citizens’ property for government purposes hurts landowners and private property rights. While this bill won’t end that practice, it’d at least ensure that landowners are fairly compensated for their property in a timely manner.

Kathi13's Opinion
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04/18/2019
Private property should not be confiscated.
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Aubrey 's Opinion
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04/18/2019
Eminent domain requires fair compensation when the government seizes private property. There should not even be a question.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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04/18/2019
The government shouldn’t be allowed to steal peoples land and throw people off their property before the deal is done and paid. Pay a fair price for it FIRST plus compensation for disrupting people’s lives. Even children know that. Anything less is theft.
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Argument opposed

The federal government is within its rights to use eminent domain to take private land for government use, as long as the property owners are compensated. By hamstringing the use of eminent domain, this bill would make it harder for the government to meet its responsibilities.

Sal's Opinion
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04/18/2019
The federal government has the right to take private property. They are already required to give just compensation, because of the 5th amendment. This bill would just make the process longer because the Democrats don't want President Trump to address the crisis at the border.
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Mark's Opinion
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04/19/2019
The bill is sponsored by a Never Trumper. Designed to slow roll our border security upgrades. Someone is stuffing cash in this dudes pocket. Follow the money. Always.
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Jon's Opinion
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04/18/2019
I have worked in situations where property owners were “compensated” for property the government agency wanted. Compensation was not close to land values and displaced home owners who were then not able to buy a replacement property at a comparable cost. There is absolutely no reason that homeland security, AKA trump’s SS, should need this. The wall is a trumpian fantasy with no valid argument for being done. Here is a good idea, why don’t the representatives of our citizens, especially the conservative Republicans, grow up and do their jobs instead of lining their pockets at the expense of the citizens of this country. My guess is that greed and pursuit of more and more power trumps doing their jobs.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Immigration and Citizenship
    IntroducedJanuary 10th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 440?

This bill — the Eminent Domain Just Compensation Act (EDJCA) — would ensure that private property owners are justly compensated if the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) takes their property. To do this, it’d require that court proceedings settling compensation be completed prior to the government taking possession of the property.

Impact

Southern states; property owners in southern states; southern border wall; eminent domain; courts; and DHS.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 440

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced this bill to ensure that private property owners are fairly compensated if the federal government takes their land for border security or enforcement activities:

“It is unjust for the government to seize someone’s property with a lowball offer and then put the burden on them to fight for what they’re still owed. My bill will stop this practice by requiring that a property’s fair value be finalized before DHS takes ownership.”

Rep. Amash doesn’t necessarily oppose a southern border wall; however, he wants to ensure that the construction of such a wall takes private property rights and environmental concerns into account. In an interview with the Ionia Sentinel-Standard in January 2019, he said:

“I don’t have an inherent objection to a border wall. It needs to be done thoughtfully. It should take into consideration private property at the border and environmental concerns. If those things can be taken into account, I’m OK with it.”

Efrén C. Olivares, racial and economic justice program director at the Texas Civil Rights project, notes that currently, landowners who decide to fight the federal government in court are often forced to give up access to their land for the duration of the suit until a final payout is determined. This bill would remedy this by requiring that court proceedings settling compensation be completed before the government can take possession of the land.

President Trump has declared his intention to invoke the “military version of eminent domain” to take property along the southern border without due process or just compensation. His plan is to declare a national emergency, call the border a national security matter, and take the land that’s needed to build the border wall. Military department secretaries are allowed to “acquire any interest in land” if “the acquisition is needed in the interest of national defense.” Trump has long supported the use of eminent domain to build his wall, saying in 2016, “You have to use eminent domain. If we had one person that wouldn’t sell us ... then we wouldn’t be able to build proper border security because we’d have that big opening.”

While the principle of eminent domain is broadly unpopular among many conservatives, who point to it an example of government overreach, they seem relatively comfortable with using eminent domain to get land for the border wall. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is one of the conservatives who’ve expressed support for the government using eminent domain to build the wall, saying, “Securing the border is a legitimate area for eminent domain where landowners would get reasonable and just compensation,” as the wall would fall under public use.

John Malcolm, vice president for the Institute for Constitutional Government at the Heritage Foundation, says that there’s no eminent domain problem as long as the president has the authority to use eminent domain. He adds: “The government could seize the land, but would have to pay ‘just compensation’ to the landowner.”

There are no cosponsors of this bill.


Of NoteThe Fifth Amendment includes language that is often referred to as the “Takings Clause” — permits the federal government to take private property for public use, provided property owners receive “just compensation.” However, in some cases, the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and other government agencies are using “quick take” condemnations to take possession of private property before just compensation has been determined. If the government’s preliminary payment is determined to be unfair, the property owner is left to fight for full compensation while also dealing with the immediate practical and financial consequences of losing their property without adequate.

The Cato Institute's David Bier criticized “quick take” at the southern border by DHS in 2017, writing:

“[U]nder the eminent domain statute, the federal government can seize property almost as soon as they file a condemnation proceeding—as soon as the legal authority for the taking is established—then they can haggle over just compensation later. It’s called “quick take.” Quick take eminent domain creates multiple perverse incentives for the government. 1) They can quickly take land, even when they don’t really need it, and 2) they have no real incentive to compromise or work with the land owner on compensation. The land owner’s bargaining power is significantly diminished. The federal government already possesses the property. This means that for years, people who are subject to a border wall taking go without just compensation. The government is supposed to compensate the landowner for this time by paying interest on the agreed amount. But in the real world, many people cannot survive for years being deprived of income that they might have from the land. According to an NPR analysis of 300 fence cases, the resolved cases took more than three years to resolve. In other cases, the process took seven, eight, or even 10 years. Some cases are still pending a decade on. Congress could rectify this injustice by requiring the federal government to work out just compensation before the wall is built or, better yet, before the land is taken. That would give the landowner a fair position to negotiate with the government and give the government a reason to respect their rights. That it would slow up a pointless waste of taxpayer dollars is just an added bonus.”

Because the federal government owns less than a third of the land on the southern border, President Trump’s desire to build a southern border wall has significant implications for private property concerns. States, Native American tribes, and private individuals contain over two-thirds of borderland property. During the Bush administration, the federal government sued property owners on the southern border for not “voluntarily” giving over their land rights without compensation. When that didn’t work, the government attempted to use eminent domain, but lawsuits imposed serious delays — including one of seven years in one case.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / grandriver)

AKA

Eminent Domain Just Compensation Act

Official Title

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, to clarify the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security to take property using eminent domain, and for other purposes.

    Private property should not be confiscated.
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    Leave private property alone!
    Like (44)
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    Eminent domain requires fair compensation when the government seizes private property. There should not even be a question.
    Like (99)
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    The government shouldn’t be allowed to steal peoples land and throw people off their property before the deal is done and paid. Pay a fair price for it FIRST plus compensation for disrupting people’s lives. Even children know that. Anything less is theft.
    Like (47)
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    This isn't right at all. What right does the government have taking anyone's property through eminent domain? And news flash they never compensate anyone with a fair/equitable payment. The Sec. of Homeland Security should never be given this kind of authority.
    Like (39)
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    Unless, we are at war the government shouldn’t be taking land. Especially, land that has been in families for years. But let’s face it... this is another Distraction News hoax. Just like all the media attention on the measles, the wall, and guns: more fear-based influence campaigns. At the end of the day, it won’t pass Congress; because, let’s face it, they will be out of a job if it does. Stop playing into Putin’s hands.
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    👍🏻 H.R.440 House Bill AKA “Eminent Domain Just Compensation Act”👍🏻 I’m agreement with and recommend the passage of the “AMASH-R” HR 440 House Bill AKA “Eminent Eminent Domain Just Compensation Act (EDJCA) — would ensure that private property owners are justly compensated if the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) takes their property. To do this, it’d require that court proceedings settling compensation be completed prior to the government taking possession of the property. The use of eminent domain to take citizens’ property for government purposes hurts landowners and private property rights. While this bill won’t end that practice, it’d at least ensure that landowners are fairly compensated for their property in a timely manner. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻HR-440👍🏻👍🏻. 4*18*19.....
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    At the very least the property owners should be given the fair value of their home. In some cases this property has been in the family for generations but because someone decides they want to build a wall or pipeline or prison or whatever else they deem necessary the seller has no choice. That in no way sounds like a fair deal and no that isn’t progress.
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    Eminent domain is cruel and should not be happening at all. Taking people’s own property for a narcissistic grifter is even worse.
    Like (11)
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    It is embarrassing that this is even a question. Not one person who used their hard earned money to purchase land deserves to have their property just taken from them . Only if the property was purchase with ill gotten gains. We are smarter than this cone on !!!
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    The federal government has the right to take private property. They are already required to give just compensation, because of the 5th amendment. This bill would just make the process longer because the Democrats don't want President Trump to address the crisis at the border.
    Like (10)
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    I don't think it's right for the government to do this, but if they're going to anyway, of course landowners should be fiscally compensated.
    Like (9)
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    Yes, private homeowner should be compensated if their land is being taken by the federal government. This is not a communist nation
    Like (9)
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    The bill is sponsored by a Never Trumper. Designed to slow roll our border security upgrades. Someone is stuffing cash in this dudes pocket. Follow the money. Always.
    Like (9)
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    NO WALL, assholes.
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    The law should leave those folks alone. The whole wall idea is ridiculous.
    Like (8)
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    I have worked in situations where property owners were “compensated” for property the government agency wanted. Compensation was not close to land values and displaced home owners who were then not able to buy a replacement property at a comparable cost. There is absolutely no reason that homeland security, AKA trump’s SS, should need this. The wall is a trumpian fantasy with no valid argument for being done. Here is a good idea, why don’t the representatives of our citizens, especially the conservative Republicans, grow up and do their jobs instead of lining their pockets at the expense of the citizens of this country. My guess is that greed and pursuit of more and more power trumps doing their jobs.
    Like (8)
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    Yes market value plus 25% because they are being compelled to sell, and if the border fence interferes with water rights then DHS ought also to pay for remediation that problem as well as pay land owners for the inconvenience.
    Like (7)
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    I don't care what the reason is - the government must prove in court the country needs your land for security purposes only. It needs to reimburse you for legal representation, and not have any access to your land until it proves your case, and pays you full value.
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    #1) Yes...if the Government takes your land, you should be fairly compensated. #2) NO land should be taken for the Monument to Trump. aka "The Border Wall".
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