Texas family’s land seized for border wall despite Biden’s pledges to halt construction

‘We took him at his word... He is not keeping that word,’ family says of President

Louise Hall
Thursday 15 April 2021 19:02 BST
Trump calls Biden's border policy 'inhumane'

A family in Texas has been left devastated after the federal government won a fight to seize their land for border wall construction despite Joe Biden having pledged to halt building the structure.

The Cavazos family has battled the federal government for their land in South Texas for years, but that the pressure on their property ramped up during Donald Trump’s administration.

When Mr Biden took office in January, the family were said to have been relieved, as the President had promised during his campaign to build “not another foot” of the wall.

However, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the federal government had the right to seize about six and a half acres of Cavazos land through eminent domain.

“We took him at his word,” one family member, Reynaldo Anzaldua Cavazos, told The Washington Post. “He is not keeping that word.”

The ruling from Judge Micaela Alvarez of the Texas Southern District Court states the government “is entitled to immediate possession of the Subject Property,” citing an “urgency of possession.”

The roughly 70 acres that belong to the Cavazos family hold decades of sentimental value and provides for the family’s livelihood in raising cattle and renting for recreational fishing.

"We’re hardworking Hispanic landowners. To my family, you can offer whatever, it’s more important for them to save their land," Baudilia Lilly’ Cavazos Rodriguez told CNN.

The federal government filed the motion for possession in 2020, reports said, but the Department of Justice asked the Texas Southern District Court for a continuance in the Cavazos case until April in February.

A Justice Department (DOJ) official said in a statement to CNN: "DOJ sought continuances in pending cases, including in this case, in which the government had previously filed motions for possession of land on the southwest border.”

"Immediately before yesterday’s court hearing, which had been reset from February 16 to April 13 due to the proclamation, the judge granted the Department’s motion for possession that was originally filed in 2020."

The Independent has contacted The White House for comment.

The Texas Civil Rights Project, which is representing the family, said in a tweet on Tuesday that "the fight against the wall in Texas is NOT OVER.”

They added: “140 lawsuits are still active; the Cavazos are just one. Now this family is at the mercy of a government that is continuing the Trump-Biden border wall.”

Mr Biden ordered a “pause” on all wall construction within a week through an executive order issued on his first day in office as president.

However, since then, reports have said that the Department of Homeland Security told department employees that they may green-light work on the structure to plug "gaps" in the current wall.

Roberto Lopez, a community organizer with the Texas Civil Rights Project told The Post: “This had been a long fight, and we thought we had cleared the finish line after the inauguration.”

Anzaldua Cavazos, who is in his 70s, told the newspaper that he doesn’t know how much longer he will have left to fight the battle over his property.

“But for as long as I have left, I’m going to be working toward tearing down this wall,” he said.

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