FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2008
Contact: Javier Riojas, Attorney
Cynthia Martinez, Communications Director
EAGLE PASS, Texas – Four local landowners are trying to stop the construction of the border wall by suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for failing to negotiate with them before taking their property.
Represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the leading provider of legal aid in Texas, the landowners argue that the government did not consult with them before starting construction on the wall along the Texas-Mexico border, a process which began the week of September 15. While the government has recognized that landowners have a legal right to consultation and negotiation before condemnation begins, DHS began building on the properties without any attempt to communicate with the landowners.“The government ignored these landowners’ rights in an effort to build the wall as quickly as possible,” said TRLA attorney Javier Riojas. “None of these families have been adequately compensated for losing their land during this process.”
The lawsuit also argues that DHS did consult with wealthy, Caucasian ranchers and has avoided using their properties in its final construction plans.
“These families are being forced to give up their land without having the opportunity to fight for it,” added Riojas. “The government cannot ignore their rights just because they aren’t wealthy and well-connected.”
Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality legal assistance and related educational services.