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In federal court, government accelerates land condemnations for border wall

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The federal government filed a flurry of land condemnation lawsuits during the past week — one of many signs that work on the border wall may be accelerating in the Rio Grande Valley.

From January to July, the federal government filed 23 land condemnation lawsuits in the McAllen Division of the Southern District of Texas, which covers Hidalgo County and Starr County. In the last week of August, the government filed nine more.

"This is so inherently political for the White House, for the Department of Justice, and we know the president has made this a high priority," said attorney Ricky Garza of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which helps property owners who don't want to surrender their property for the wall.

Lawsuits aren't the only sign that work on the border wall may be accelerating. 

Workers erected new sections of wall Wednesday near Hidalgo. A storage yard on Business 83 in Pharr is full of bollards. And construction near Donna, which started last fall, remains underway.

The U.S. Department of Justice didn't respond to a request for comment.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it prefers to work with property owners rather than resort to legal action, but that work on the wall is moving forward.

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