Immigration

Eminent Domaining the Canadian Border

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Feels like I'm going to lose my mind

The sleepy Morses Line border crossing between Vermont and Quebec has fewer than 15,000 vehicle crossings per year. So, naturally, the Department of Homeland Security wants to improve it through property seizure:

It intends to acquire 4.9 acres of border land on a dairy farm owned for three generations by the Rainville family. Last month, the Rainvilles learned that if they refuse to sell the land for $39,500, the government intends to seize it by eminent domain.

The Rainvilles call this an unjustified land-grab by federal bullies.

"They are trying to steamroll us," said Brian Rainville, 36, a high school government and civics teacher whose grandfather bought the farm in 1946 and whose parents and two brothers run it now. "We have a buyer holding a gun to our head saying you have to sell or else." […]

Homeland Security officials counter that modernizing border facilities should be a national priority. US Customs and Border Protection received $420 million in federal stimulus funds to renovate ports of entry along the Canadian and Mexican borders.

Whole Boston Globe article here. Read another from the alt weekly Seven Days (source of the Matthew Thorsen photo above). Hat tip to reader Michael Navarette.

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  1. Hold it. I am not familiar with the size of diary farms, but I can’t believe they are not bigger than 4.9 acres. And the price is nearly $8,000 an acre. This hardly strikes me as being on the level of people losing their homes in Brooklyn to build a sports stadium.

    I have my issues with imminent domain. But this case doesn’t strike me as a very good poster child.

    1. RTFA; they have 220 acres. The claim is that they are losing an important chunk of the available hay/grazing land.

      1. I don’t object to imminent domain as long as it is for a real public purpose and the seller is made whole. Love or hate DHS, this is clearly the kind of purpose contemplated by the Constitution. The question is are these people being made whole. I don’t know enough to answer that question. But, damn, if 8K an acre doesn’t make them whole, what would?

        1. $8,000 for prime Vermont farmland?
          Hell, I’ll offer $8,500, sight unseen.
          (Have you priced good Eastern farmland lately, John?)

          1. Plus, you have to calculate the fact this is an integral part of a working farm. Can they replace the land with adjacent acreage? I’m betting they’d find it hard to do so for $39,500.
            Plus, it’s fucking CANADA!

          2. No I haven’t. But that to me seems to be the debate. I will take your word that 8500 is a good price. Let’s say that the land is worth 10K an acre. That means the feds are screwing these guys out of 8K. That sucks and should be stopped. But it is hardly a national outrage on the level with Kelo or Rattner antics in New York.

            1. But it is hardly a national outrage on the level with Kelo or Rattner antics in New York.

              Easy for you to say, asshole! It’s not your land in question!

            2. Where do you live? I think we need your land to build And ill give you fair market price ( hope your home has not decreased in value) If you do not accept our offer police will be sent to remove you. Please do not defend your property or you will be shot.

          3. Do we really want to get into land valuation arguments on this blog?

        2. That’s the point. The only public purpose being served here is strengthening a parasitical government bureaucracy. No American citizen will be made safer by this action.

          1. Building a border crossing is a public purpose. You may not think that it is a good idea. But that is a different issue from imminent domain.

            1. imminent domain.

              You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

              1. Fuck off. You know what I meant. If you have nothing to add to the conversation beyond word pedantry, go find something else to do.

                1. Don’t be angry because we pointed out you can read.

                  1. Should be can’t read.

                    John’s stupid is spreading.

                    1. It must be. Because the mistake had to do with my inability to type an “e” as opposed to an “i” and nothing to do with my reading ability.

                      If you are going to snark, at least get it right. That is a really sorry effort.

                    2. imminent domain
                      Replacing the i with an e gives you:
                      emminent domain

                      Sorry John, still wrong.

                    3. And spelling still has nothing to do with reading you fucking leftist troll

                    4. If only John could replace the leftists in his head with a dictionary.

                    5. CN,

                      You can always tell the leftists on here from the resident libertarians by how they respond to. The resident Libertarians will agree with me about some things and violently disagree with me about other things. But it is always about the subject of the argument. It may get personal and nasty. But it is always about something.

                      For some reason I really bring out the ire in the leftist trolls who show up here. Not the house liberals like Dan T or MNG. But the trolls like Oh no not this again and Leffiti. They never engage the issue. They just issue invective and comment on spelling like it matters for substance.

                      If Astrid isn’t a leftist troll, she is certainly acting like one.

                    6. Astrid also appears to be a leftist by the long list of substance free posts on this thread. Just a bunch of + whatever and snark. Maybe I am just prejudiced, but that has all the markings of a leftist troll.

                    7. So are you able to spot illegal immigrants with that keen intuition and lack of evidence as well? I hear Arizona’s hiring.

                    8. -5 to higher ground

                    9. I’m all about the snark, John. And I’d probably make the plus sign, too, if I could ever locate it on my keyboard.
                      But I’m no leftist!!!

                    10. We call that joe’z law ’round these parts.

            2. There is already a border crossing. WTF takes 4.9 acres?

              1. Also, also, I opposed ED for a simple reason. It is impossible to determine the proper value to pay because the true value is whatever a willing buyer and seller agree to. Without a willing seller, the price cant be determined, hence, even though the constitution claims to allow ED, that clause is invalid.

      2. So what? The justification for spending gobs of money on the canuck border may be weak, but that’s a separate issue entirely from utilizing eminent domain as part of implementing that expenditure.

    2. I agree with John here…there is such a thing as legitimate ED, and this seems like a case for it. I do agree that the price seems far too low, though I’m no one’s expert on Vermont land prices.

      1. there is such a thing as legitimate ED

        It’s covered under My Plan, provided you make it past the Death Panels(tm)!

        Oh! Wait, you meant eminent domain! But that’s an enumerated power. And so is The Commerce Clause. Therefore, Obamacare is Constitutional!

        See, I am a Constitutional scholar!

      2. I don’t think there is any such beast as “legitimate ED”. There is ED authorized by the Constitution, which I thoroughly disagree with and don’t think is legitimate.

        Note that some of the Founders were opposed to any ED, period, because they saw how the government would use it to screw over individual landholders.

        1. The Constitution defines what is legit. Like it or not. I’m not a fan of ED either, but I’m a bigger fan of the Constitution, therefore I won’t call ED illegitimate dispite my disapproval.

          1. The Constitution defines what is legit. Like it or not.

            No, it defines what is constitutional. Legitimate is a separate question.

            1. Pretty much one and the same in the eyes of law, No?

              1. Pretty much one and the same in the eyes of law, No?

                No.

            2. People have different opinions about what is legitmate, and what is not. Our opinions rarely, if at all, matter when we talk about what government can legitmately do.

        2. +1.

          Also: the entire idea that you can force somebody to accept just compensation is nonsense. If the compensation is just, they’d sell voluntarily, by definition of “just”.

    3. $8,000 an acre ain’t shit. Where I live, in “rural” South Jersey, it’s going for over $20,000 an acre for farmland with an agricultural zoning. If you get a sub-division permit on it, double that.

      1. Also, in my town, they are threatening two local, productive businesses with eminent domain to sell to a private developer for “downtown redevelopment”. I guess City officials don’t like Crown Fried Chicken (soul food kitchen), and the Auto Customizations (Puerto Rican “chop shop”) . The problem is, the town is offering the assessed (tax) value of the properties, not the appraised values.

        1. Sorry, the proper term is downtown “revitalization”.

          Language always gives you away

          – George Carlin

  2. The terrorists have won, and they’re working for the Department of Homeland Security.

  3. Other than the retarded fear of terrorist boogeymen from Canada, I’m not sure what the issue is here.

  4. “modernizing border facilities should be a national priority”

    Should read –

    We have a budget that we have to spend on some ridiculously unnecessary crap or we lose it for next year.

    1. We’re gonna build this one out of sticks.

  5. Homeland Security officials counter that modernizing border facilities should be a national priority.

    “We need more shiny buildings!”

  6. Maybe DHS can assemble a team of eager young wannabe starchitects to establish an appropriately intimidating vernacular to awe any and all foreign malefactors into submission.

    It’s certainly worth a try.

  7. Couldn’t they spend the money in Arizona instead?

    1. If you want to stop Islamic terrorism spend the money on training intelligence agents and infiltrating the Middle East. The only thing this border crossing is going to catch is American tourists smuggling home Cuban cigars.

      1. You got a problem wit dat?

    2. “”Couldn’t they spend the money in Arizona instead?””

      Valid question. It seems they need more border enforcement in AZ than they do at this post.

      We only have so much money, you do have to prioritize your spending according to need. The problem is that after 9/11 our government wants to make everything a priority as if the taxpayer is an unlimited fountain of money.

  8. Here’s a kill-two-birds idea. You know what’s right across the lake from Cleveland? That’s right. Canada.

  9. What are you saying, Citizen? The Canadians won’t allow themselves to be duped into buying Cleveland.

      1. You mean the American citizen.

  10. While this is a valid use of emminent domain, this is an unwise use of taxpayer dollars.

    When the local community is in favor of just closing down the border crossing altogether and spend the money on the freeway crossing a few miles away, I would be inclined to listen to them. Communities like this normally fight against these closings because of the inconvenience.

  11. When Canadian tanks come rolling into Vermont, you hate-America types will all feel pretty stupid. This is a clear and present danger!

    1. Canada has tanks?

      1. Yes, and Canada is also working on a top-secret Canadian bacon/anti-Canadian bacon fusion weapon.

      2. Tank.

    2. We will stop them!

    3. You haven’t met many northern Vermonters…

  12. Wow, thats pretty scary when you really think about it.

    Lou
    http://www.total-anonymity.se.tc

  13. Canada has tanks?

    What do you think they keep their oil in, before they deliver it to us?

    1. Sell it to you, ftfy

  14. It is not clear this is even a bad idea. You border is only as secure as its weakest link. The fact that no one uses this crossing doesn’t excuse it from serving its function. And I would also point out that the Canadians are constantly whining about the US not updating its border crossings.

    1. Perhaps Canada should update its border crossings…

      1. Maybe we should to. Seriously of all of the federal bullshit spending, the TARPs, the fucking rutabaga research grants, the billions stolen for this and that purpose, building new border crossings is pretty low on the list of outrages. Isn’t securing the borders and collecting customs duties a core function of the government? They feds are even supposed to do that under Lockner.

        1. “”Isn’t securing the borders and collecting customs duties a core function of the government?””

          Sure, but they would rather spend the money somewhere else.

          It’s like your kid spending his movie money on candy, then asking for more movie money.

          1. Maybe this post is a bad idea. I honestly don’t know. But it is still is a legitimate public purpose if a waste of money. And let’s be honest, complaining about this waste of money is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.

            1. The post may need some upgrading. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. I’m just not sure why it needs 4.9 acres of a citizens property to do so. There is very little traffic across that crossing. If it had a large amount of traffic and need that much land, I might could support it.

            2. “” And let’s be honest, complaining about this waste of money is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.””

              Uh, yeah, remember that the next time you’re complaining about the cost of Obamacare.

              1. Complaining about a one trillion dollar program is a bit different than talking about a few million dollars to build a new border crossing. Sometimes a difference in quantity is so great that it becomes a difference in quality.

                1. When you’re broke, you can’t really pay either loan.

                2. Besides, if we were to really secure our borders the cost would be greater than a few million.

            3. Why 4.9 acres? All you need is a shed and an arm that moves up and down.

      2. Perhaps Canada should update its border crossings…

        I don’t understand how that is a relevant response to the statement “…Canadians are constantly whining about the US not updating its border crossings”.

        I would assume that Canadians are complaining about US border crossings because they have trouble entering the US. If they are not complaining about Canadian border crossings (and I don’t know that they aren’t), it might be because they have no problems with them (but then, returning citizens generally have fewer problems at border crossings than non-citizens).

    2. “”You border is only as secure as its weakest link.””

      I agree with you on the ED issue, however the problem with the weakest link concept is that you build a prison style wall across the border and weak links will still exit. How much tax money do you want to spend chasing weak links. I don’t think America, currently, is in the fiscal position to chase weak links. I propose a border closing tax to pay for it. If America doesn’t want to cough up the cash, then it’s not that important to the citizenry.

      1. That is true. And that is why the solution is to kill the terrorists before they get here. We will never stop all of them from getting into the country.

        But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And that also doesn’t mean we can’t do some good by trying. And we still have criminal and customs laws to enforce. I don’t think it is too objectionable for the government to have some idea who and what comes into the country. That doesn’t mean we build the Berlin wall. But decent customs posts are not a bad idea.

        1. So can I put you down as a supporter of the border closing tax?

        2. “”But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And that also doesn’t mean we can’t do some good by trying””

          That could be said about any project de jour, including health care. It always depends on the details, cost, logistics, and possible outcomes. If the benefit isn’t worth the cost, then trying was a waste of money. If you don’t support government wasting money, you can’t support them trying in areas that are unlikely to succeed.

          1. Your example is one common fallacy. But another fallacy is the idea that just because something can’t be done perfectly it shouldn’t be done at all. Just because we will never secure the borders completely, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t secure them to the extent to which it makes sense. There ought to be another alternative to the Berlin Wall or nothing at all.

            1. What fallacy John? Are you calling cost benefit analysis a fallacy?

              “”Just because we will never secure the borders completely, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t secure them to the extent to which it makes sense.””

              But “which it makes sense” might be missing from this example. And who gets to decide the defintion of sense? Obama care makes sense to many people, and this government, does that make it so?

            2. I’ll ask again, are you a supporter of my proposed border closing tax?

              1. WTF is a border closing tax?

                1. I’m proposing a border closing tax to pay for closing the border.

                2. Perhaps if you read all of my comment when I post, you would have known that already.

      2. I have to agree with Vic here. The Canadian border is so enormous and much of it is undeveloped mountains and woodland. The weak links in the border control will always be too many to reasonably fix. Border control will never be a route to national security.

    3. It is not clear this is even a bad idea.

      Longish bumper sticker for John’s car: “The government should do stuff if there is some doubt about whether it is a bad idea.”

  15. The Rainvilles say they have nothing against border officials. Two years ago, they closed the farm so that law enforcement agencies could use it to conduct a drill on the response to a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack. But they were rankled by a recent government assessment that described the 4.9 acres as undeveloped and insignificant to their operation.

    These people are crazy, thinking they can better judge “productive” use of that land! They should be stripped of their citizenship.

  16. Irony: using stimulus funds to handicap a private business

  17. Homeland Security officials counter that modernizing border facilities should be a national priority. US Customs and Border Protection received $420 million in federal stimulus funds to renovate ports of entry along the Canadian and Mexican borders.

    It just goes to show: you have to spend money to spend money. If only hicks like the Rainvilles understood this.

    1. 420, LMAO. Now I’m convinced our government is stoned.

  18. “We have a buyer holding a gun to our head saying you have to sell or else.”

    This is a perfect description of eminent domain.

    1. And any other government encounter.

  19. YOU SUCK! I CAN GROW BETTER JOKES BETWEEN MY TOES!

  20. BUILD A DANGED FENCE!

    1. You have to buy land to build the fence on.

      1. So would they use imminent domain or emminent domain to get that land?

        1. Wow Astrid, you make a joke about spelling. That is good of you. Glad to see you understand irony and humor. And those +1 posts you do really add to the conversation. Now run away and take your new found skills to another thread or better yet another blog and let the adults talk for a while.

          1. Yet, that post added nothing either.

            1. True. That is why trolls are so bad. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. My apologies for feeding one.

              1. It happens. 😉

            2. Or that one.

              Or this one.

              Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

          2. Glad to see you understand irony sardonicism and humor.
            Fixed it for you.

      2. It only has to be 1 inch wide though.

    2. “””BUILD A DANGED FENCE!””

      I use to jump fences all the time as a kid. We would need a very expensive fence for this cause and a couple of thousand miles of it. It has to be paid for. Do you support my proposed closed borders tax?

  21. Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    When you’re circling the drain, no one can hear you scream.

  22. This is an authorized use of eminent domain.

    1. More of the public will use the new Nets arena, and shopping facilities that Bruce Ratner is planning to build than this border crossing.

      1. not publicly they wont.

  23. The beauty part? DHS can just declare the border zone to extend 1000 miles from each border, and then it’s all “authorized use”!

  24. The patient had a melanoma on his scalp. The doctor cut off the patient’s head. One must agree that removing the cancer was a good idea. What are we arguing about?

    1. You’re catching on!

  25. For most of my life the US/Canada border might as well not existed. You could travel back and forth freely merely by stating what country you were a citizen of. They would occasionally search a vehicle but far more often it was a short friendly encounter with a bureaucrat in both directions. Nightclubbing in Windsor was common in my youth.

    Now you need papers to walk down the street in Arizona.

    Worry about a possible police state in America? You must be crazy.

    1. That’s before people wanted to hurt America.

      I couldn’t even type that with a straight face.

  26. I’m all for — get this — REOPENING THE BORDER INTO CANADA! Jesus, there is nothing gained by this idiocy about securing a border with our peaceful northern sibling. The idiot terrorists from 9/11 did not get here from Canada. They were here legally, too. All this bullshit about closing the Canadian border and finding weak links is knee-jerk, fear-based reaction, and absolutely fucking pointless. My girlfriend needs a fucking PASSPORT to visit me, or I her, and that’s Goddamn ridiculous given how close we are geographically.

    This is just more lunacy. I wish to God more people would raise holy Hell and get that border reopened.

  27. 9/11 was extremely effective. It got us to totally lose our minds, give up freedoms, and spend lots of money on stupid shit that wouldn’t have stopped the perps anyway. The hijackers came into the country legally, yet we steal from our own citizens to keep those out who would not have had trouble crossing at the old or new border station. Amazing.

    1. Ugh. I need to refresh more often.

  28. Why 4.9 acres? All you need is a shed and an arm that moves up and down.

    For the pillbox, tunnel complex, and high-security holding facility.

    Longish bumper sticker for John’s car: “The government should do stuff if there is some doubt about whether it is a bad idea.”

    That would certainly be a major move in the right direction from where we are now. Curreny policy seems to be “The government should do stuff because it can. Bitches.”

  29. Alternate bumper sticker:

    “It’s probably not the absolute stupidest idea I’ve ever heard- let’s give it a shot!”

  30. I do not see what the big deal is.

    Is it the price is to low?
    Is it that the land is being used for border checks?

  31. I extracted the page of the project’s environmental impact statement showing the existing and proposed new border stations outlined on some aerial photography. The proposed lot appears to be on a prime hay field.

    http://www.heurtley.com/richard/morses-line.jpg

    The image is 204KB.

    1. Look at all the backed up traffic in that picture. Who could be against this takings for the public good?

  32. This whole thing is especially bullshit because of the geography of that part of the border. If I want to cross from Canada to Vermont or vice-versa, and want to forgo border guards because I am carrying something illicit — anything from Canadian codeine bought over-the-counter, to radioactive material or bioweapon powder — here’s how I do it:

    Step 1. Make sure you’re wearing sneakers or comfy walking shoes, not flip-flops or stiletto heels.

    Step 2. Have a friend-with-nothing-illegal-on-him let you and your illicit stuff out of his car about a mile from the border (American or Canadian side, it doesn’t matter.)

    Step 3. While your friend, in the car, waits in line to officially cross the border, you go for a lovely, leisurely walk in the woods with the unmarked international border running through it.

    Step 4. Meet up with your friend in his car a mile or so on the other side of the border.

    That’s all it takes, and as many others have pointed out, the only way to close this loophole is to build a 3,000-mile fence all along the Canadian border, and even then criminals and terrorists would soon find ways to get through it without difficulty.

  33. This may not be such an isolated incident.

    DHS is trying to take property at the crossing in Forest City Maine – town of population 5, that sees less than a dozen vehicles a day.

    http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/139401.html

  34. Shorter comment thread:

    (1) Actual government buildings and facilities are a legitimate use of eminent domain.

    (2) This particular building is more a function of clearing the budget than meeting a need.

    (3) Its possible that the farmers are getting low-balled. Who knows?

    (4) IMMIGRATION! BLARGLBLARGL!

  35. VT has lost many acres of farm land to development over the years. While 5 acres does not sound like much, it does have a significant impact on a small farm. Farmland lost is lost forever. Does a crossing has 4 employees really need a 2 story office building and a fitness facility?

  36. as if the taxpayer is an unlimited fountain of money.

    Aren’t they? I mean, as long as you keep them alive at least.

  37. USA Government and Canada Government is a BEST FRIEND! come on?

    1. Canada Government COMPLAINED that USA guns is legal in USA, all american did come to Canada to sell Canadian for illegal guns! Canada Law against guns!

    2. USA Government COMPLAINED that Canada Marijuana come to USA as illegal and Cartel Canadian did made $ 2.5 Billion Dollars per year “Thank You Idiot American” like that.

    My opinion, USA Border did hard work for their best and I am not lie to any american people, they did work a hard and they tried to best for USA and Canada. What about Canada Border? Canada Border is WEAK! Canada Government is Lazy! They don’t doing enough and They don’t care about it but why they complained about illegal guns in first place? If they dislike illegal guns then they should UPGRADE their own security!

    illegal aliens? Canadian really not care because we are not in 3rd world and we are in rich world nation like USA, EU, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. USA Government don’t want put a fence because one day, Canada Government will collapse and Canada & USA will become “The United States of North America” in one day with 64 states or 65 states in next 10-20 years later. Remember, USA and Canada is Best Friends.

  38. This stupid goverment is spending money in the wrong place. It is the border with Mexico that is broke big time and the jerks in Washington do not have the courage to fix it. Vote them out when you have the chance.

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