Joe Biden Gives Texas Family Their Seized WALL Land Back, When Clearly It Should Go To Steve Bannon
ABC News screenshot

A Texas family this week learned that a strip of land on which Donald Trump wanted to build his big stupid border WALL will finally be returned to them by the Biden administration. The Cavazos family can trace ownership of their 77-acre plot all the way back to a Spanish land grant in the 1760s, but in 2017 the Trump administration began trying to seize a 6.5-acre chunk of it, which would have split their land in half and cut off their access to the Rio Grande river (yes, we know that's redundant).

When Trump lost the 2020 election, the Cavazos family thought their fight to keep their property near Mission, Texas, was safe, since one of Joe Biden's first acts in office was to cancel WALL construction. Ah, but bureaucracy can be a terrible thing, as Business Insider reports, because in April, a federal court — acting on an eminent domain lawsuit started under Trump — ruled that the US government could take "immediate possession" of the 6.5 acres.

Yr Dok Zoom is not a lawyer and has no idea why Biden couldn't have just ordered a freeze to all the existing Trump WALL cases, but the good news is that Tuesday, in a court filing, the Biden administration said nah, our bad, here's your land back, as part of an agreement to cancel WALL construction in the Rio Grande Valley. So yay for people not having their land taken for some bullshit.

The Texas Civil Rights Project, which has been representing Eloisa Cavazos pro bono, announced the win Tuesday on Twitter:

BREAKING: Our client, Eloisa Cavazos, has just had her land returned to her after fighting against the government’s seizure and border wall construction since 2018.

In follow-up tweets, the group said,

Now that we have successfully stopped the construction of a needless and wasteful border wall on their property, Ms. Cavazos and her family will be able to continue their quiet and fulfilling life beside the Rio Grande.

This was only possible because of the tireless work of advocates from the RGV and beyond who stood behind them every step of the way. Thank you for being a part of this fight. [raised fist emoji]

As the Washington Post reported in 2018 (here's a paywall-free Texas Tribune linky), the land the Trump administration wanted for its big beautiful WALL would have bisected the Cavazos land, cutting straight through their "barn, through their rental house, and through a field where they grazed a small herd of longhorn cattle." It would have blocked access to the river, where the cattle drank, and where the family managed to make some extra income by "renting out a few dozen recreational fishing camps on the river for $100 a month, earning just enough to get by."

No, the WALL plans didn't include a big beautiful door to let them get to the river, either.

That story (it's a very good read! Go read the whole thing!) also recounts the family's previous fights with the Bush and Obama administrations, which wanted chunks of their land for smaller, less gigantic sections of border fencing; cousin Rey Anzaldua, who lives on another section of inherited riverfront land several miles away, had a similar fight with the feds. That fight eventually ended with a section of fencing built in his back yard, but at least it didn't follow the original route, which would have required tearing down his house. Living on the border has involved a long series of losses for the family.

The family cemetery was lost to a government floodway in the 1950s, and the former hunting grounds were now a high-end golf course. “We’ve lost so much land already,” [Anzaldua] said. “To me, that’s what makes the wall such an insult.”

A retired Customs agent, Anzaldua noted that smugglers and undocumented migrants found creative ways to circumvent the 18-foot wall on his property and believed that the wall had only succeeded in "[preventing] his family’s access to the riverfront that was once rightfully theirs."

And yes, before the fight over WALL, the Cavazos family did see a lot of migrants coming across their land, leaving abandoned inner tubes and water jugs, and sometimes breaking down fencing. But it wasn't as disruptive as losing half the property and all access to the river would have been.

At the time of his own fight for his land, Anzaldua had already concluded, based on his experience in law enforcement and as a landowner, that tougher enforcement wouldn't do a damned thing about illegal border crossings:

“If people could find a way to cross a river 150 yards wide and evade the U.S. government — if they were willing to risk death by walking through miles of brush in 120-degree heat — they would find a way to scale a wall.

A pointless and wasteful exercise,” Rey had written to the government at the time. “It’s supply and demand. Why not spend the money on drug treatment and reducing the need for cheap labor?”

Those still seem like pretty good ideas to us, so we will end it there.

[CNN / Independent / Business Insider / Texas Tribune]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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