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Latest DHS tactic to build border wall keeps landowners from having land appraised

LatinaLista — Sexy topics always gets the most attention — emphasis is on “sexy” not sex.
These days, it’s much sexier to discuss President-elect Obama’s Cabinet picks or the state of the economy or even the Big 3 automakers groveling before Congress.
What’s not sexy these days? Any topic that has been covered ad nauseam and is considered yesterday’s news. One such topic is the border wall.

Rio Grande Valley landowner Eloisa Tamez
The border wall story has been the subject of countless newspaper articles, blog posts, newscasts, magazine stories and documentaries. Each and every story detailing how the Department of Homeland Security is so intent on building a physical wall along the US-Mexico border that they have disregarded high-level public input, seized ancestral property and created ill-thought out routes for the fence.
With new portions of the fence already underway in South Texas, one would think there’s nothing new to the story.
Yet, there is something new and it’s enough to show that what the government is doing to some people in trying to seize their border lands for the fence isn’t just deplorable and unjust, it’s plain unAmerican.

There is probably not anyone more outspoken against the government seizing her land for the construction of the border fence than Dr. Eloisa Tamez. Dr.Tamez lives outside Brownsville, Texas on land that has been passed down through her family tree since the 1700s.
She’s been locked in a heated battle with the DHS ever since they told her that she was going to have to give up part of her inheritance so the fence can be built. It’s not that Dr. Tamez wouldn’t do the patriotic thing and fork over what the government asks of her if she thought it was a worthy cause but she, like so many others who have lived their entire lives along the Texas-Mexico border, see no value or need for an obvious political eyesore of a statement.
Of course, the government is promising to compensate Tamez for her land’s value but there’s only one problem — the government is telling Tamez that her land is only worth so much money. Being somewhat skeptical, Tamez would rather have her own appraisal of her land to decide if what the government is paying is fair. The problem is no appraiser wants to touch her case and the ones that would be eligible to appraise her land have already been hired away by the government.

The other problem is that appraisers usually charge several hundred dollars an hour to prepare a full appraisal.
If an appraiser charges around $200 an hour, Garza says for her land it would cost $6,000-$10,000. That’s more than she makes in a month, so she worries about others even less able to afford those costs.
Garza says she wants other people in this situation to stand up for their rights. She’s just trying to defend her family’s land because she believes it’s worth more than what the government is telling her. She doesn’t want to give up her land at all, but if she’s forced to, she wants the full value of what it’s worth.

What Tamez wants is not unreasonable. In these uncertain economic times, who wouldn’t want the true, full value of the one investment that has sustained generations of the same family?
Nor is it unreasonable to get a second opinion.
What is unreasonable is for the government to hire up all the local appraisers and not give landowners a fair chance at finding out how much their land is truly worth.
If the government was truly prepared and fair about it, they would have brought in their own appraisers and allow the local appraisers to be hired by the local landowners. As such, by blocking the possibility for landowners to pursue this course of action smells pretty funny.
The next time Tamez has to face the government over her land in a courtroom is in March. Hopefully, by then common sense and decency will have prevailed in the DHS and the issue will finally be put to rest and out to pasture.
Update: New documentary on the border wall debuted last month. The following is a trailer for the film The Border Wall by Wayne Ewing:

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    December 3, 2008 at 7:36 am

    What is Eminent Domain?
    Eminent domain refers to the power possessed by the state over all property within the state, specifically its power to appropriate property for a public use. In some jurisdictions, the state delegates eminent domain power to certain public and private companies, typically utilities, such that they can bring eminent domain actions to run telephone, power, water, or gas lines. In most countries, including the United States under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, the owner of any appropriated land is entitled to reasonable compensation, usually defined as the fair market value of the property. Proceedings to take land under eminent domain are typically referred to as “condemnation” proceedings.
    Enough said about this topic. This process happens in every state in the country. Seems the only complaint that most have against the wall is it will restrict some illegal entry to the U.S. from Mexico.

  • Madrugada99
    December 3, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Not so. The problem is, as the article points out: indigenous lands — including ancestral burial lands as in the case of AZ –are being dug up and the process is impeding upon indegenous peoples’ right to access their lands and people on both sides of the international boundary. Additionally, not many people know that the “border wall” isn’t actually going up on the border but rather miles inland. So not only is the wall going right through people’s property, it is also going to create a space or better yet a “place” made up of US soil behind the wall and between the actual border upon which the citizens of this country cannot lay eyes. Hmmm, I wonder kind of autracities might end up taking place there? I, for one, don’t care to find out. The border wall should not be built.

  • Texano78704
    December 3, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Seems the only complaint that most have against the wall is it will restrict some illegal entry to the U.S. from Mexico.
    Opinion noted. Perhaps you should try reading some of the articles in border city newspapers on the topic. Not that it will change your opinion, but you will find out that you are quite wrong.

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