Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Do we desire to be cradled, and then carried throughout life to our graves by this partisan propelled bureaucratic monstrosity? ... as individuals of sovereign dignity, are we now so terrified, bewildered, and impotent that our main purpose is to seek asylum from the potential hazards of freedom? Have we no faith in our natural strengths and abilities?”     Sergei Hoff

February 16, 2008

The Border Fence vs. Private Property Rights

by Doug Mataconis

The Washington Post has a detailed article this morning about the government’s efforts to steal private property to build a fence along the Mexican border:

EL CALABOZ, Tex. — In the 240 years since the Spanish Crown granted Eloisa Tamez’s colonial ancestors title to this flat, grassy expanse along the Rio Grande’s northern bank, her family has steadily lost its holdings to the Mexican War of Independence, the U.S. annexation of Texas and the Great Depression.

Now Tamez faces what could prove the final blow: The Department of Homeland Security has proposed building a section of the U.S-Mexico border fence mandated by Congress directly through the last three acres of the family’s original 12,000-acre tract.

But the 72-year-old nursing professor has a message for any government officials who expect her to leave quietly. “I’m not going down without a fight,” Tamez said, her dark eyes narrowing as she gazed beyond her back yard toward a field where she used to pick tomatoes as a child. “My father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather farmed this land. This is the land that gave me my life and my spirit. . . . I will fight this all the way.”

And Tamez isn’t the only one who stands to have her property stolen:

Over the past several weeks, U.S. attorneys acting on behalf of the Homeland Security Department have been filing lawsuits against the holdouts. Already, federal district judges have ordered one landowner in California, 11 in Arizona and 11 in Texas — including the small city of Eagle Pass — to temporarily surrender their properties. The mayor of Eagle Pass, which is located about 100 miles southwest of San Antonio and stands to lose 233 acres of city-owned land, said the city is planning to appeal. Suits are also pending against 14 landowners in California and 44 in South Texas, including Tamez.

News of the lawsuits has sent a chill through the chain of tiny centuries-old South Texas settlements that dot the Rio Grande like beads on a necklace. Like Tamez, many residents of these hamlets are descendants of the Spanish settlers who colonized the region in the late 1700s. But significant numbers of them are now impoverished, and even those who have become middle-class professionals, such as Tamez, lack deep pockets for a legal battle.

But here’s the particularly galling part, in many cases the border fence isn’t even being built on the border:

According to preliminary maps, large stretches of the proposed fence would be located more than a mile inland from the river, cutting off substantial swaths of land.

In other words, the fence would be cutting people off from several square miles of property that actually lies within the United States to begin with.

Though I find the idea of a border fence in the middle of the desert to be of dubious value, there are, as the article points out, other solutions. Vehicle barriers have been used in parts of Arizona. In other places, the levees along the Rio Grande are being built as high as 18 feet — an unscalable length — and border patrol reconnaissance is being increased.

In other words, there are ways to secure the border that don’t involve outright property theft. Here’s hoping the Feds don’t get away with it.

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7 Comments

  1. [...] The Border Fence vs. Private Property Rights s original 12,000-acre tract. But the 72-year-old nursing professor has a message for any government addthis_url = ‘http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sttialphapi.org%2Fblog%2Fcosmic-bathing%2F’; addthis_title = ‘Cosmic+Bathing’; addthis_pub = ‘digitalpimp’; [...]

    Pingback by Cosmic Bathing | ALPHA PI CHAPTER OF SIGMA THETA TAU INTERNATIONAL — February 16, 2008 @ 9:29 am
  2. Violating the property rights of landowners so the government can build a fence to keep out people who want to come here to work so we can have cheaper goods. What about this entire fence idea isn’t completely ridiculous and obscene?

    Hope none of them are farmers or ranchers…getting cut off from a mile of your land can definitely put a crimp in your livelihood.

    Comment by UCrawford — February 16, 2008 @ 11:41 pm
  3. Protect our borders, protect our Border Patrol Agents. Get involved and protect the Constitution and vote for Ron Paul and write your congressman. This November I will write in Ron Paul’s name right whre there is a blank specifically for write in’s Check out http://www.borderguards.org Check out the new DVD that explains why congress is refusing to protect our borders even 6 years after the devastating impact of 9/11 movie is “Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement” available at netflix

    Comment by Mike — February 20, 2008 @ 2:11 am
  4. I wonder what they are going to do with the property they confiscate. A border fence isn’t going to solve the issue. It is just a tool to pacify people. We have people who can’t compete with our corporate agriculture businesses coming here to work, taking low skill jobs from Americans (thus their opposition) from what I’ve read. There is opportunity for low skill Americans if the government bureaucracy would get out of the way, allowing them to be self employed and enjoy the cheap labor. There needs to be a focus on cheap re-education/education focused on noticing and exploiting opportunities found in the global economy. I’d rather see that than universal health care. I don’t think we have enough natural resources (water) to handle this growing population. We may need to attack Canada and claim the glaciers as ours :-)

    Then there is the problem of everyone getting along. http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_1_blacks_and_immigration.html

    Collectivism, feuding, and taking resources is in our nature as much as respecting each other as individuals in a multicultural society. I wonder which one will ultimately win here. I hope we don’t end up with powerful lobbying groups that have a vendetta against their country of origin (like the Cubans) or hostile to a nation/people that they see perceive as an enemy to the nation/people they have ties too (Israelis/Armenians). Then again there contributions to society will be priceless. The American music scene wouldn’t be the same without the Mars Volta.

    Comment by uhm — February 20, 2008 @ 5:40 am
  5. Mike,

    Check out the new DVD that explains why congress is refusing to protect our borders even 6 years after the devastating impact of 9/11 movie

    Congress isn’t locking down the borders because it’s an exorbitantly expensive program and economically suicidal program that wouldn’t have had any impact on 9/11 because the hijackers came here legally. And one major terrorist attack is no reason to throw our entire history of freedom away simply because some people are too panicky to put it into perspective.

    Comment by UCrawford — February 20, 2008 @ 6:26 am
  6. uhm,

    Collectivism, feuding, and taking resources is in our nature as much as respecting each other as individuals in a multicultural society.

    I think that a lot of the opposition we see to immigration comes down more to fear of the “other” than anything else. Ours is a nation of immigrants and eventually every new immigrant group has learned to adapt and fit in because they realize that our society (more free than most and largely meritocratic) offers the best chance for a prosperous life if you’re willing to work…that’s why most of them come here. Some people who oppose open borders seem to see immigration as a hostile invasion. I see it as more workers for businesses and more economic prosperity and expansion for ourselves….basically just more ingredients for the melting pot.

    Comment by UCrawford — February 20, 2008 @ 6:34 am
  7. There will come a day when the constitution will be done away with. A collapsed nation with bread lines and million starving and many more dead. Wheat is scarce and the price of any food is high. To continue they must get rid of the constitution and thats what Hillary will do. Sorry, but Hillary will be the next president and that would just suck. Check out http://www.borderguards.org Check out the new DVD that explains why congress is refusing to protect our borders even 6 years after the devastating impact of 9/11 movie is “Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement” available at netflix

    Or

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1070329053600562261&q=endgame&total=3440&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

    Comment by Mike — February 22, 2008 @ 3:23 am

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