Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid issued the following press release:
WESLACO, Texas – Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the leading provider of legal aid in Texas, is making itself available to border landowners facing lawsuits from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for access to their land to build a wall along the Texas-Mexico border.
The lawsuits come after DHS requested access to landowners’ property to plan the location of a wall along the United States – Mexico border. Approximately 600 landowners received requests and an estimated 70 Texas landowners who refused to comply are expected to be sued by Homeland Security as a result.
DHS’s first lawsuit was filed against the City of Eagle Pass on Monday. That same day United States District Judge Alia M. Ludlum ruled on the matter and ordered Eagle Pass to allow government surveyors to access 233 acres of city land for 180 days. In exchange, the federal government paid $100. The orders came without any opportunity for the City of Eagle Pass to voice an objection.
According to TRLA attorney Rebecca Webber, “The fact that the Department of Homeland Security would resort to these fly-by-night tactics in Eagle Pass signals that a tough legal battle lies ahead. We’re preparing for it.”
Border landowners throughout Texas have been anticipating the federal government’s actions for several months. Members of GLOW (Granjeno Landowners Opposed to the Wall) have spent the last two weeks waiting for any sign that the government will be taking legal action against them.
“Many of these landowners are afraid that the government is going to take away land that has been in their families for hundreds of years. They may not have much, but they’re willing to fight to keep it,” added Webber. “For many of them, the anxiety of not knowing what is going to happen has been stressful enough.”
TRLA has partnered with the South Texas Civil Rights Project to provide free legal services to landowners needing representation, regardless of their income level. The groups are available to make referrals to private attorneys, provide general legal advice, and represent landowners in government lawsuits.
“Texas RioGrande Legal Aid is available to provide free legal advice at every step of this process,” added Executive Director David Hall. “If landowners don’t want the wall built on their land or want to make sure that they get the best possible price for their property, we can help.”
TRLA encourages landowners needing legal assistance regarding the border wall to call 1-866-757-1570.
Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil 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 civil legal assistance and related educational services.
Rebecca Webber, Attorney
Cynthia Martinez, Communications Director