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The Woman Who Beat the Border Wall

October 05, 2021 (1 min read)

Gus Bova, Texas Observer, Oct. 5, 2021

"About 14 years ago, shortly after [registered nurse Pamela] Rivas inherited the land, the Bush administration moved to seize about an acre of her property for border wall construction. Many Texas landowners—often intimidated or misled—allowed government agents to survey their property and accepted lowball offers for their land. Rivas’ father, who passed away in 2008, essentially advised her to do the same: “My dad was sitting at the kitchen table and he told me, ‘You’re fighting the government; you’re not going to win’,” she recalls.  But Rivas resolved to fight. She found lawyers with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, who threw every argument they could at the Justice Department. Rivas testified in court, and, when the case went briefly to the 5th Circuit on appeal, she traveled to New Orleans. The sum effect was to slow things down. The government technically seized the land in mid-2008, but no wall was built. ... January 2021 came, and Trump still hadn’t built any wall in Los Ebanos. For eight more anxious months, Rivas waited. Finally, on September 21, the Biden administration returned all her seized land. In dozens of other cases, the feds appear to be moving in a similar direction, in one of the clearest signs yet that Biden, with some perplexing exceptions, is truly terminating the South Texas wall. The victory is Davidesque. But, as Rivas knows well, the wall was but one piece of a decades-long trend of militarization."