Push to build border wall accelerates in Texas despite coronavirus pandemic
LAREDO, Texas — Tony Medina sat at a desk in his home last week, surrounded by toolboxes and photos of his family. In front of him was a neatly printed four-page statement he had prepared for his virtual hearing to explain to a federal judge why he doesn’t want the property he has owned for more than 40 years to be taken by the U.S. government for a border wall.
Mr. Medina’s hearing last week was the first to be held telephonically in the government’s race to survey land in the Laredo area for a border wall it says will block illegal immigration and smuggling. While the coronavirus pandemic has paused or delayed many legal proceedings, court actions by the U.S. government to take private property for the wall have accelerated in recent months.
Since March, the government has filed 24 federal cases against South Texas landowners for the border wall, more than the previous eight months combined.
The Trump administration has so far made little progress on the construction of a border wall, the president’s signature campaign promise.
Since 2017, the government has built 194 miles of wall along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, most of it replacing existing walls or fences. Three miles of wall have been constructed where none was before. The government has plans to build 731 miles at a cost of $15 billion.