Property owners, Biden administration battle over eminent domain cases

HIDALGO, Texas (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden promised that there would be no more border wall and no more land confiscations during his campaign. However, some south Texas residents say their property is still being seized.

Reynaldo Cavazos Anzaldua took NewsNation on a tour of his family land. The 65-acre Mission, Texas plot has been in his family since the 1750s.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. government seized 6.5 acres from the 76-year-old to use to continue the border wall, which currently stops on his next-door neighbor’s property.

Reynaldo Cavazos Anzaldua’s land

The fight over Cavazos Anzaldua’s acreage began during the Trump administration, but President Biden never withdrew from the case or asked to dismiss it.

In an NPR interview with reporters from the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Biden condemned the wall and eminent domain.

“There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration,” Biden said in August 2020. He added about eminent domain, “End. End. End. Stop. Over. Not gonna do it. Withdraw the lawsuits. We’re out.”

Just down the road from Cavazos Anzaldua is the National Butterfly Center, home to hundreds of species of butterflies, birds and plants.

“We do fear that our land will be seized under the Biden administration,” executive director Marianna Trevino Wright said.

Wright has watched eminent domain inch closer to her 100-acre garden.

National Butterfly Center

As of July 2020, the federal government acquired 135 private tracts of land, according to the Government Accountability Office. The government said thousands are still in pending, most lying in South Texas and belong to people like Cavazos Anzaldua.

He says he believed in Biden when the president promised his land was safe.

“I assume you voted for them thinking they’d keep their promises. I would have voted for them anyway, but now I don’t know if I’ll vote next election or not. I might, I might not. We’re that upset at Joe Biden right now,” said Cavazos Anzaldua.

With eminent domain, the government compensates for property taken from landowners. Both Cavazos Anzaldua and Wright say there is no amount of money that either would find acceptable.

According to the Texas Civil Rights Project, there are currently 140 pending land lawsuits here on the border in south Texas alone.