Border Wall Land Grabs

The New York Times reported on May 30, 2020 that the Trump administration is accelerating efforts to seize private property for Trump’s border wall.  The government is taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to survey land while its owners are confined indoors.  This blog has written about the wall before.  How’s the Wall Going? February 10, 2020; How’s Your Wall Going? Part II, February 27, 2020.  These blogs discussed the destruction of protected saguaro cactuses which can live for 200 years.  It’s a crime to cut down a saguaro, punishable by up to five years.  But, not for the Feds.

According to tribal leaders of the Tohono O’odham Nation who live on both sides of the border, the construction is blasting ancient burial sites and siphoning an aquifer that feeds a desert oasis where human beings have quenched their thirst for over 16,000 years.

The government prevailed in Federal Courts, allowing the disregard of dozens of laws, including measures protecting endangered species and Native American burial sites.  This was because of Trump’s National Emergency Declaration in 2019 aimed at curbing unauthorized immigration.

In Texas, the U.S. Mexico border is a river, the Rio Grande.  Ninety-five percent of the adjoining land is privately owned.  There is fierce opposition to the proposed condemnations.  The land is held by farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and deeply rooted Hispanic families.

78 condemnation proceedings have been filed before the pandemic, which has stopped surveyors from marking and mapping future takings.  As the New York Times article written by Zolan Kanno-Youngs states, negotiations and lawsuits are proving to be arduous.  The increased litigation against the landowners, despite the pandemic, is evidence of the administrations’ sense of urgency to deliver on a symbol of Trump’s crackdown on immigration.  The President has said the pandemic is proof of the wall’s necessity.  This is, of course, patently incredible.  There is no evidence the wall will have any effect on health.

The Feds can certainly expect a fight.  Some of America’s best eminent domain lawyers are Texans.

The wall has been reported to cost $19 million a mile.  Experts say that it is easily breached.  On May 31, 2020, CBS 60 Minutes broadcasted a story showing how the Rio Grande River is completely polluted with raw sewage from Tijuana, Mexico and flows through large water works right under the wall and is easily accessible to illegal immigrants.

But, the wall was promised by Trump.  Now almost four years later, only 194 miles have been built.  And, no, Mexico did not pay for it.  Trump mindful of his promise put his son-in-law Jared on the job.  Now completion is a certainty.  In jest of course.

Posted in Border Wall, Native American Sites, Texas
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