Friday, April 17, 2009

Judge clears way for border fence on Eloisa Tamez's land

Associated Press / Brownsville Herald
April 16, 2009
by Christopher Sherman

McALLEN - A federal judge rejected the last of the objections from one of the border fence's fiercest opponents Thursday, giving the government immediate possession of her land and clearing the way for construction to begin.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued his order in Brownsville, denying the arguments from Eloisa Tamez that the government failed to provide enough information about the fence it will build, the access that will be available from her land in El Calaboz and its offer of compensation.

Tamez's persistent legal fight against the border fence delayed for more than a year the government's efforts to take possession of a quarter acre of land she said was part of a Spanish land grant to her family.

Neither Tamez nor her attorney Peter Schey immediately returned calls seeking comment.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has nearly completed the 670 miles of fencing mandated by Congress along the U.S.-Mexico border. South Texas landowners have proved to be some of its staunchest opponents.

Construction of the border fence in the rural El Calaboz community was already proceeding around Tamez's property.

Tamez and others had hoped the new administration of President Barack Obama might halt the fence, but the Department of Homeland Security has allowed the portions where contracts to build the fence were already awarded to proceed.

Tamez and other South Texas landowners won a battle in December when Hanen rejected government requests that a land commission be established to determine how much the government paid property owners for their land. Instead, Tamez and others will be able to argue their cases before juries later this year.

The government has offered $13,500 for Tamez's .26 acres.

In Hanen's order Thursday, he ruled that the government had explained sufficiently the type of gates that would be installed within a half-mile of Tamez's property, the form of the 15 to 18 foot fence and how it arrived at the $13,500 compensation figure.

The order noted that $8,500 was for the slice of land and $5,000 was for the negative impact on the remaining three-acre property.

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