It doesn’t take a lifelong Texan to know that landowners in Texas are sensitive about their property rights. Trump’s border wall is about to change that.
As the Texas Observer recently reported, landowners who own property near the United States/Mexico border are now receiving “declarations of taking” that order them to either accept a lowball offer for their land, or have it seized by eminent domain. One of those homeowners is Yvette Salinas, who owns 16 acres of land in Los Ebanos, in Hidalgo County, Texas.
In January, Salinas received a 21-page document from the federal government explaining that 1.2 acres of her land was needed in order to build the border wall that became a cornerstone of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. She could either accept $2,900 for the land, or have it seized by the government in order to construct the wall after a likely lawsuit.
“We don’t want this wall — the town is pretty much united on that,” Salinas told the Texas Observer. “But we don’t want to get sued by the U.S. government either.”
Roughly ten years ago, former President George W. Bush signed off on the construction of over 100 miles of border fencing on private land, which would have meant included the 1.2 acres of property in Los Ebanos . However, because the wall was on the floodplain of the Rio Grande, an existing treaty between the U.S. and Mexican governments prevented the wall from being built, as the treaty doesn’t allow for any new construction that pushes floodwaters into neighboring communities.
But in 2012, that treaty was effectively overridden by lobbying from President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, which convinced the United States half of the International Boundary and Water Commission that construction could go forward on the floodplain. While Obama emphasized surveillance over a wall, the Trump administration is more inclined toward construction of a new wall, meaning that Los Ebanos is likely going to have to accede to the federal governments’ declarations of taking.
Read the declaration of taking here.
Jamie Green is a contributor for the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.