Gov't Seeks to Claim Inmate's Property for Border Wall

2 years 4 weeks 11 hours ago Wednesday, September 18 2019 Sep 18, 2019 September 18, 2019 4:57 PM September 18, 2019 in News - Local

LOS EBANOS – A federal lawsuit was filed this week to gain access to a property in Los Ebanos, Texas.

Similar lawsuits have been filed as part of the federal government's process of building fencing or walls near the border.

The process requires notification to the owner who is in a unique situation. 

The property sits along the riverbanks of the Rio Grande in Los Ebanos, a city known for having the only border ferry crossing.

Federal agents keep close vigilance on the city as it is also frequently used for illicit purposes.

The lawsuit filed this week explains why the government seeks access.

A portion of it reads:

"... to conduct surveying, testing, and other investigatory work needed to plan the proposed construction of roads, fencing, vehicle barriers, security lighting, cameras, sensors, and related structures designed to help secure the United States, Mexico border within the State of Texas."

Efren Olivarez, director of the Racial and Economic Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project, is an attorney who represents clients in similar litigation.

He explained the government is attempting to survey and test the land to determine if a border wall or structure could be built there.

The first step is filing this lawsuit and notifying the property owner.

According to Hidalgo County records, the land is registered to Julio Adrian Salgado.

Court documents list his address at Three Rivers, a federal correctional facility northwest of Corpus Christi. 

Salgado was sentenced to a year and a day in federal custody after he entered a guilty plea to human smuggling this year, for an incident that happened in Los Ebanos on Christmas Eve 2018.

That was one of two other sentences he received for similar charges in 2007 and 2009.

The notification will have to be served at his current place of residence.

Olivarez assures whether the owner is incarcerated, free or living outside of the U.S., they are all entitled to the same process.

It may be difficult to initially attain an attorney from prison, but that may not be the biggest challenge.

Olivarez explained, “Eventually there could be a hearing to determine what amount is just compensation and the landowner is entitled to attend that hearing and give testimony as to how much the land is worth. If he is in prison or in jail when that happens he probably won’t be able to travel to the hearing for that matter. So that’ll present the most significant obstacle in my opinion.”

Bureau of Prisons records show Salgado is expected to be released in April 2020.

Property lawsuit with the federal government can take years to litigate.

That could mean Salgado is released and able to appear in court to be part of the land compensation discussion. 

The federal complaints for the smuggling incidents to which Salgado pleaded guilty detail they happened near Sullivan City, La Joya and in Los Ebanos.

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