Property Rights, Military Preparedness, Religious Freedom Under Attack (Along with Immigrants)

Trump caricature by DonkeyHotey

Trump caricature by DonkeyHotey, used under Creative Commons license

Trump’s national emergency declaration targets immigrants first, but collateral targets include Texans, Marines, and anybody else in range of his scattershot, scatterbrained attacks. On March 26, the House of Representatives failed to override Trump’s veto. That leaves his unilateral declaration of national emergency in force, unless and until one of the pending court challenges succeeds.

Bypassing usual methods of acquiring private land for government purposes, the administration is fast-tracking an all-out assault on property rights. Texans living near the border are not happy:

“Rey Anzaldua and Fred Cavazos, who are Rep. Cuellar’s constituents, face the condemnation of land that has been in their family since the 1760s. Nayda Alvarez, another of Rep. Cuellar’s constituents, could lose the home where she raises her children,” the release stated. …

“We talked to the U.S. attorney, Border Patrol agents, and some engineers — more or less they were telling us how much land they were going to take…” Anzaldua said. “‘We might be able to work with you on the buildings and the barns,’ and this sort of thing. But the assistant U.S. attorney was pretty adamant we will lose the land, and he says: ‘There’s very little you can do. What you can do is negotiate on the price.’ Basically, that’s what he told us.”

When the 2006 Secure Fence Act was implemented, wealthy property owners with lawyers got three times more money than the government’s first offer. Poorer landholders didn’t. Rich or poor, they could lose land immediately, without any prior due process protection.

“[The]  federal power to seize land contains none of the landholder protections commonly found in state and local jurisdictions. The federal government rarely loses its bid to take land. Under a special procedure, federal officials can file a Declaration of Taking that results in a court granting immediate title to the land. Bulldozers can roll the next day. The only fight, essentially, is over how much money the property owner will receive….

“Here’s the meat of the waiver. No need for a lot of documentation regarding your land’s value. And negotiations are capped at 30 days. After that, CBP cuts a check and takes possession of the property.”

The U.S. military also loses under Trump’s national emergency declaration. The Department of Defense is already shifting a billion dollars from a personnel account to build 57 miles of fence. Some military officials say that’s no big deal because they couldn’t recruit enough soldiers to spend the money on anyway. Others disagree:

“The commandant of the Marines has warned the Pentagon that deployments to the southwest border and funding transfers under the president’s emergency declaration, among other unexpected demands, have posed “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.”

“In two internal memos, Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said the “unplanned/unbudgeted” deployment along the border that President Trump ordered last fall, and shifts of other funds to support border security, had forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries, and delay urgent repairs at bases.”

And in immigration prison news

Representative Jason Crow (D-CO) reports that a Colorado ICE detention facility has an ongoing chicken pox outbreak, one reported case of mumps, and only one doctor for 1,500 detainees. The facility is run by the for-profit GEO Group.  

Transgender women and gay men report being repeatedly sexually assaulted in a private immigration prison in New Mexico.

A new government report also details sexual abuse of detainees by Customs and Border Protection agents, including graphic description of assaults on two teen sisters.

The ACLU reports widespread disrespect for religious freedom by Border Patrol officers, including seizing rosaries from Catholic immigrants, seizing Bibles from Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist men, and serving only pork sandwiches, “every eight hours for six straight days,”  to a Muslim immigrant detained because his work permit had expired and was pending renewal. The ACLU said, “This sort of treatment is not just morally reprehensible, it’s against the law.”

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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