Texas landowners along the U.S.-Mexico border have begun receiving notices from the federal government saying that they’re coming to either buy, or take, parcels of land for Trump’s pointless border wall. According to the Texas Observer, landowners are receiving “Declarations of Taking” notices that offer a price for the piece that the government wants. If the landowners refuse that, then they may see those parts of their property taken via eminent domain.
One landowner, Yvette Salinas, got her notice back in January. She’d been dreading it for a while because of George W. Bush’s focus on a border fence. Under Obama, she’d been able to relax a bit because he focused on patrolling and monitoring the border in ways that didn’t include taking land and building a wall.
Now, with Trump in office, this shit has just gotten real. Whether any of these preparations happened while Obama was still in office or not, it’s Trump who is pushing the wall forward as quickly as he can. It’s one of his focal points, and it will be his government that buys up or takes the land.
The introduction in Salinas’ letter reads like this:
“The United States of America is acquiring property along its border with Mexico in order to construct a fence and related improvements designed to secure the border, as required by the Secure Fence Act of 2006.”
They offered Salinas and her family $2,900 for 1.2 acres of land – the same amount for the same land that the government offered her under George W. Bush years earlier. The tiny community in which she lives—Los Ebanos—lies entirely within the floodplain of the Rio Grande. That land is protected by a treaty with Mexico that forbids the building of structures that could force floodwaters into other communities, and has been an obstacle towards border wall construction.
Under Trump, though, Los Ebanos seems to have become a focal point. The government has already completed surveys and planning for a wall there. Despite increasing problems with costs, the fact that crossings are down, and the fact that Republicans are voicing their discomfort with the idea, Trump keeps hammering the wall as the way to secure the border.
It’s impossibly stupid. People who live along the border prefer the technological surveillance and the presence of the U.S. Border Patrol to a wall because they believe that’s more effective and costs a hell of a lot less. And they don’t have to give up pieces of land that have been in their families for generations for that.
They also know people will still cross whether there’s a wall or not.
Salinas doesn’t want to sell that bit of land but she doesn’t know what to do. The community doesn’t want to allow the wall to be built through there, either, but neither can they afford to have the U.S. government sue them, and they risk having their land taken without compensation if they try to fight.
Featured image by Erik S. Lesser via Getty Images