‘I’ve been here all my life’: Mission family loses land to U.S. government for border wall

Texas

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — A family that has been in Mission for generations learned Tuesday that their two-year-long dispute has ended with them losing 6 and a half acres of land to the United States government.  

The Cavazos family says that their family origins began over a hundred years ago in the Mission area but saw their rights to their land be handed over to the U.S. government after a ruling from a federal judge

“This President promised not one more foot of wall or land forfeiture, and look what happened … land forfeiture,” said Reynaldo Anzaldua, a member of the Cavazos family. “What’s coming next? A wall?”

The Cavazos’s land sits on the Rio Grande where multiple tenants who rent the property there can look across to Mexico. Anzaldua says they were hoping the end of the Trump administration would mean the end of border wall construction, too.  

“Surprise-surprise … a federal judge just forfeited six and a half acres of the Cavazos property,” Anzaldua said. 

The exact amount of land being forfeited is 6.584 acres. This includes the area a barn sits on and the entrance to the property.  Jose “Fred” Cavazos, the landowner, is 71 years old and disabled but says the government is putting it on him to clear the land.  

Jose “Fred” Cavazos (Iris Karami/KVEO)

“I’m going to be left alone to take that barn down,” Cavazos said.

Another issue is that Cavazos makes part of his livelihood from renting land to tenants and the family worries that they will not be able to enter anymore.  

Reynaldo Anzaldua, right, and Jose “Fred” Cavazos (Iris Karami/KVEO)

“Are these tenants going to be able to get into this property?” Anzaldua asked.  

The Texas Civil Rights Project has represented the family since the beginning of their trials and says that there has been no transparency from the government.  

“I think immediately transparency would be really nice,” said community outreach coordinator, Roberto Lopez. “Are they going to continue with construction or are they not? It’s really that simple.” 

Lopez also says that the wall is built on a levy that is supposed to protect the area from hurricane flooding, posing a threat to the environment.

“We want people to know that the Biden administration promised to no confiscate their land and that just happened, so my role is make sure that the administration knows we are going to hold them to the fire to keep their promise,” Lopez said.

“We want people to know that the Biden administration promised to no confiscate their land and that just happened, so my role is make sure that the administration knows we are going to hold them to the fire to keep their promise.”

Roberto Lopez, Community Outreach Coordinator Texas Civil Rights Project

Biden’s moratorium on border wall construction ended on March 21, but the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, has talked about ‘filling the gaps’ in the unfinished border wall.  

“The Cavazos family property is one of those gaps,” said Lopez. “And then right here to the east right behind me is construction that was taking place right before the Biden administration pause.” 

Five months ago, there was no border wall on the east side of the levy in front of the Cavazos’s property, but now there is. 

According to the TCRP, there are 140 families in South Texas that are facing potential land condemnation, but the Cavazos says that it is more than just land to them … it is their home.  

“I’ve been here all my life — 71 years — I was born here in Mission, and I was raised here. Our father taught us how to fish here,” said Cavazos. “We’re trying to fight it but it’s going to be hard.” 

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The mission of BorderReport.com is to provide real-time delivery of the untold local stories about people living, working and migrating along the U.S. border with Mexico. The information is gathered by experienced and trusted Nexstar Media Group journalists hired specifically to cover the border.