In Texas, the U.S.-Mexico Border is a river, and 95 percent of the adjoining land is privately owned. Anywhere Trump builds his wall in Texas, he’ll have to wrench land from farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and deeply rooted Hispanic families. Just downriver from the target land, for example, lies a stretch that includes an RV park frequented by Winter Texans, a bar and grill that offers river cruises, and the historic La Lomita chapel. No construction contract has been awarded there yet, but the feds expect to do so in March, according to court filings. Upriver, in neighboring Starr County, sits a more densely-populated target: the poor and flood-prone border town of Roma, sister city to Ciudad Miguel Aleman. In all, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sent letters to nearly 600 landowners in Starr and Hidalgo counties last year, advising them of its interest in taking land for the wall.
When the feds take land for border wall, the process is quick and brutal. A decade ago, the Bush and Obama administrations built 110 miles of wall in Texas. Some landowners are still haggling over payment in court today, but the wall was built regardless. That’s because the feds use a supercharged version of eminent domain, allowing them to take property without first settling on a price. Top Texas Republicans, typically shrill opponents of the “grasping hand” of government, have shown little interest in defending Texans from this particular intrusion.
The 33 miles of wall slated for Hidalgo and Starr counties cost at least $19 million per mile.
Sacred Native American burial sites are being blown up for Trump’s border wall. Construction crews began blasting sites within Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument as part of the construction of President Trump’s border barrier, and the affected areas include sites sacred to Native American groups, according to a congressman from Arizona and advocates.
The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is an internationally recognized biosphere reserve – meaning it has plants and animals so rare that the United Nations has given it a special designation. It includes about 330,000 acres of designated wilderness and is home to ancestral grounds sacred to the Tohono O’odham Nation, one of at lease a dozen Native American groups that claim connections to grounds within the monument.
In addition to concerns about sacred grounds, environmental advocates – and members of the U.S. government – have warned about the potential destruction of other sites and wildlife in the area as a result of construction.
An internal National Park Service report found construction of Trump’s wall could destroy up to 22 archaeological sites within Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
In addition to the sacred sites like Quitobaquito Springs, the entire monument is ancestral lands. The tribe uses it to gather plants, they still actively use it for ceremony, the entire landscape is sacred to the tribe.
There is apparently no oversight of the construction. No one is protecting historic tribal monuments. No one is assigned to prevent unnecessary damage from the construction. The wall is a dumb, misguided project out of control. One should also realize that there is so much more to the project and so much expense yet to go.
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