Zapata v. Trump border wall lawsuit continues

The clock may be ticking on the Trump administration, but a campaign promise to build a southern border wall is speeding up.
Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 7:35 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The clock may be ticking on the Trump administration, but a campaign promise to build a southern border wall is speeding up.

However, that’s not stopping Zapata Count and landowners from moving full steam ahead on their fight against it in the courtroom.

For four years now, we as a nation have seen border wall plans unfold, but it was only recently that Webb and Zapata County residents learned what their fate would actually look like.

Last month Marks Morgan, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection was in town with the plans for the Laredo sector.

“We’re going to keep building in all the areas we need it. At the same time, this presidential administration has given us funding to infuse technology along the southwest border as well.”

Morgan is just one of the defendants in a civil lawsuit, also named is President Donald Trump and Chad Wolf, the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.

The plaintiffs are Zapata County, Melissa Cigarroa, a landowner in webb and zapata; and Chris Rincon, the director of the River Pierce Foundation in San Ygnacio who helps with restoration.

Their attorney Carlos Flores tells us they believe President Trump’s remarks as a candidate and president shed light on why a wall is being built in Laredo.

“It is a lawsuit that is asserting that the president had discriminatory intent towards communities in the border specifically Mexican and Mexican Americans. What resulted from that is known as executive order 13767, and that executive order basically says that his policy is going to be to build a wall all along the southern border.”

Court documents also claim that a wall was never supposed to be built in the area.

“Congress has never designated the Laredo sector as a being a place for border wall construction as compared to the Rio Grande Valley, or El Paso, or San Diego – where congress specifically allocated dollars for that sector, and identified the number of mile of wall that they needed. The Laredo sector has never had that.”

In their case exhibits which includes statements, articles, and data is a report that was recently released by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General.

A department that holds HSL accountable for it’s actions and how it spends dollars, according to Flores.

“And, it came out on July 14th with a scathing report that CBP and DHS had failed to look at alternatives to the border wall,” said Flores. “It failed to look at factors such as the fact that when in 2008 there were studies done that since then there had been about 40,000 new Border Patrol agents that had been hired, and didn’t take into account the impact of that on security along the southern border.”

However, federal officials claim the proposal for a wall has been decades in the making.

They say a wall is necessary to decrease smuggling of narcotics and humans along the border.

However the lawsuit is also arguing a violation of the landowners fifth amendment equal protection right, 10th amendment, and other constitutional and statutory challenges.

Trump, Morgan and Wolf filed to dismiss the case but that’s not stopping landowners.

On Tuesday, November 24th they filed their response.

They expect to have a hearing by late December, early January, but in the meantime they tell folks this project isn’t a done deal.

Flores encourages anyone with questions about border wall construction to reach out to Juan Ruiz 956-482-4401.

Additionally, the Webb County Democratic Party Executive Committee unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Biden administration to immediately declare a suspension on border wall construction in the Laredo sector and to stop seizing public land and private property, pending a review of the project and “letting” of construction contracts.

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