News Roundup: South Texas Residents Receive Federal Request To Survey Land For Border Wall

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJuly 10, 2018 1:08 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A Texas congressman says 200 residents in his district have received letters from the federal government requesting permission to survey their land for the possible construction of border barriers.

“Those requests have been sent over to different landowners around the area where they want to put about 25 miles of levy walls in Hidalgo, and about 8 miles worth of fencing in Starr County,” says U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar. Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, says residents receiving these letters need to keep a few things in mind.

“Well, the first thing is, certainly they need to have an attorney look at the letter and not just sign because it’s a letter from the federal government,” Cuellar says. “They need to understand that the first request is just to survey the property, the site assessment, to see if they can even build a wall or fence. And where would they put it along their property.”

Cuellar says that even though the proposed barriers in each of these counties are expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, residents don’t stand to make a lot of money by allowing the government to use their land.

“Quite honestly many times the federal government is going to lowball the landowner – try to give them almost nothing,” Cuellar says. “They’re supposed to give them fair market value, but there are times where they don’t understand what the value is of that land with due respect to the federal government.”

Cuellar points out that there are still outstanding lawsuits landowners brought against President George W. Bush’s administration when they were working on border barriers in South Texas.

Cuellar also argues that building a wall is a 14th century solution to a 21st century issue. He says advanced technology such as cameras, drones, and ground sensors would be more efficient and cost effective for border security.

Texas has acquired more lethal injection drugs – and it’s not clear where they came from. Throughout much of this year, it seemed the state might run out of its dwindling supply of pentobarbital before carrying out the seven executions remaining in 2018.

Keri Blakinger looked into this issue for the Houston Chronicle. She explains that in recent years it’s been harder for states to get drugs for the express purpose of executions.

“In part because drug makers have realized maybe it’s not great branding to have their drugs used in executions,” Blakinger says, “and they’ve made it more difficult for prison systems to get their hands on drugs for lethal injections.”

Blakinger spoke with two experts who said not only is it difficult to get pentobarbital – it’s also illegal to use in executions. But the state pushed back on that claim, arguing it complies with all state and federal laws.

Still, when Blakinger was trying to track down documentation of this recent shipment, she couldn’t find it and she hasn’t received corresponding, legally-required forms for these 15 vials.

“So, I don’t what that means,” Blakinger says. “There’s no tracking form, it’s like the drugs fell out of the sky. And I’m sure there’s some explanation, I just don’t know what it is, and it’s sort of baffling.”

State secrecy laws allow the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to withhold information about its source of lethal injection drugs.

The days of savoring a small pack of peanuts during Southwest Airlines flights are coming an end. The Dallas-based carrier announced it will stop serving the snack starting August 1 due to passengers’ peanut allergies.