Feds Planning for Border Land Condemnations

Some Texas property owners have received letters informing them that the U.S. government intends to take portions of their land near the border.

By Rhonda Fanning and Michael MarksMarch 18, 2017 1:53 pm,

Some property owners on the border have received letters informing them that the federal government intends to acquire portions of their land. The letters, called “declarations of taking” are motivated by the Trump administration’s plan to build a border wall, but plans to acquire Texans’ land on the border go a lot further back.

Jason Buch, who covers border and immigration issues for the San Antonio Express-News  says the government’s interest in border property goes back to the Bush-era plan to build a border fence.

“The people I’ve talked to – their land was originally set to be condemned under a George W. Bush-era law that authorized the 650 miles of fencing that are currently along the border. There were holdups,” Buch says. “Condemnation of their land was never finalized.  But the U.S. Attorney’s office told me yesterday they have not condemned any land pursuant to any executive orders by the Trump administration.”

Buch says the government letters currently target three specific areas of the Texas border.

“There are apparently three areas, along which about 14 miles of wall total was never completed,” he says. “And that’s in the Los Ebanos area, which is in western Hidalgo County, sort of near McAllen. It’s famous for having a hand-drawn ferry across the river that still operates.”

Landowners near Rio Grande City and Roma, both in Starr County, have also received letters.

Buch says property owners aren’t happy about potentially losing their property, especially since a border wall could divide their land, making it inaccessible to landowners.

“I talked to one landowner near Roma who said he stands to lose access to 20 acres of his property down on the riverbank,” says Buch. “And the woman I spoke to whose family risks losing access to their property in Los Ebanos said they run their cattle down to the riverbank, and that’s the cattle’s source of water.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.