The government has the power to seize land from citizens to build things like schools, roads and border walls although it is required to fairly compensate them.
That power is more limited at the local and state level, where officials have enacted policies to protect landowners. Meanwhile, the federal government could feasibly take private land and begin building on it the same day — and pay the property owner later.
The Texas Tribune partnered with the education publisher Pearson to explain to Texas students how the process works:
Related Tribune coverage:
- The Taking: How the federal government abused its power to seize property for a border fence
- Border wall plans spur effort to help Texas landowners with eminent domain
- 'Come and take it': Eminent domain dispute at heart of bullet train battles