Feds Taking First Steps Toward Building Border Wall in Texas

The Rio Grande Valley has been selected for 33 miles of border wall, and there are signs that the government is ready to get to work in South Texas, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

Officials with Customs and Border Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers have started contacting border landowners that they plan on assessing their property. 

Efren Olivares with the Texas Civil Rights Project says, so far, the town of Mission in Hidalgo County is the focus.

It's very emotional,” he says. "For most of the people I've talked to, they're lower income, and they've had this land for generations."

The land that's of interest, he says, is near the butterfly center in Mission, Texas, which is a place that environmental groups say should be protected.

"In this 38-mile length of fence the Trump Administration seeks to build, more than 30 million square feet of vegetation may be cleared. Some of this will be private land, such as ours, but some of it will be public land, like the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.  These are YOUR lands," the Butterfly Center writes. 

For those private landowners, Olivares says the property is who they are.  He says it's part of their heritage.

"And they cannot conceive of selling the land or losing the land," he explains.

The group of Texas lawyers have been getting the message out to homeowners that they can protest the government's valuation. Some landowners have been given $100 an acre. Others have been given $1,000,000.

Supporters of the border infrastructure project say the work is needed to close gaps in the Rio Grande Valley sector wall that are exploited by smugglers. Earlier this year, Congress approved $1.5 billion in initial wall funding.

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