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Border wall land condemnation cases still active after executive order

1 month 1 week 2 days ago Friday, January 22 2021 Jan 22, 2021 January 22, 2021 10:41 AM January 22, 2021 in News - Local

President Joe Biden wasted little time fulfilling a campaign pledge by signing an executive order just hours after he was sworn in. But some Rio Grande Valley residents still have questions.

“It’s unclear whether or not, presently, if the proclamation is having the intended effect of pausing all border wall construction,” said Roberto Lopez of the Texas Civil Rights Project. 

Biden’s order terminated the national emergency which allowed former President Donald Trump to appropriate funding reserved for the military to use on building the wall. But none of the border wall funding in the Valley came from those military funds --it came from congressional funds. 

“All 100-plus miles of border wall that has been approved for the Rio Grande Valley-- that has been from congressional appropriations,” Lopez said.

The U.S. Army Corp told Channel 5 News they could only confirm that border wall construction funded by the Department of Defense money has been halted. Once again - that does not pertain to the Valley. 

Congressman Henry Cuellar, a critic of the wall, confirmed Thursday that the executive order does pertain specifically to the lands obtained with military funds. Cuellar added that border wall construction will stop in the Valley, as well. Any money that had been earmarked for Valley wall projects will now go to the Department of Homeland Security.  

“That money, they’ve asked the agencies to come up with ideas on how they can redirect those monies within Homeland,” Cuellar said. “So instead of border wall, we can put technology, we can put cameras, censors.”

However, Cuellar says land condemnation cases are still active. Meaning, for the time being, some will still need to fight legal battles for their land until someone at the Department of Justice in D.C. tells them to put a hold.  

Congressman Cuellar says he will be advocating for President Biden to cancel all wall contracts. 

Cuellar added he does not know what will happen to parts of the wall that have already been built, or even partially built, but says he's confident that people in court fighting for their land will not lose it. 

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