President Trump hoping to secure private land in Texas to build border wall
President Trump sent his budget request to Congress to fulfill a number of campaign promises. One of those promises is building the southern border wall, a key campaign talking point. In order to do so, the president is requesting money to hire lawyers to head south and seize land that he’ll need. Those who could be affected say the president has the ability to ruin multiple centuries of tradition.
Maria Del Zocorro Vidaurri Garcia’s family has owned land in Zapata, Texas since 1750. The land on the Texas-Mexico border could be seized by the Trump administration. In his proposed budget, the president is calling for lawyers to take land for the purpose of building up President Trump’s long-talked about border wall.
“It was very, very sad to know that we had not been notified, we had not been called on...called, not even a written letter,” said Garcia.
Garcia says she doesn’t think this administration cares about people living on the border. Her late father is buried on the land. If the land is seized she will leave and he stays behind.
“This is our home,” said Garcia. “It’s very hard to think about it. It’s very sad. And to think that we would have to leave him behind.”
Garcia’s hope is that her congressman, Henry Cuellar (D-TX), can convince others in Washington to get rid of the proposal. Cuellar says building the wall is not the solution for border security, especially when it requires taking land from Americans.
“What happened to respecting landowners’ rights, especially when it’s been there for generations?” said Cuellar.
The Trump administration can take the land under what is called eminent domain. That is the right of the government to take back property for public use, while compensating the landowner. Supporters of the wall say this is the cost of national security.
“We’re doing this, building these structures, in the national interest to protect public safety and American jobs,” said Dave Ray, communications director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Ray says even if there is pushback against seizing this land, the government will get it in the end.
“The wall and enhanced border security is being built to secure the nation against terrorism, to enhance public safety, and save American jobs. What kind of price can you put on that?” said Ray.
The president’s budget is just a proposal. Congress will finalize the budget in the coming weeks and months.