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By Associated Press
HIDALGO, Texas — As President Donald Trump travels to the border in Texas to make the case for his $5.7 billion wall , landowner Eloisa Cavazos says she knows firsthand how the project will play out if the White House gets its way.
The federal government has started surveying land along the border in Texas and announced plans to start construction next month. Rather than surrender their land, some property owners are digging in, vowing to reject buyout offers and preparing to fight the administration in court.
“You could give me a trillion dollars and I wouldn’t take it,” said Cavazos, whose land sits along the Rio Grande, the river separating the U.S. and Mexico in Texas. “It’s not about money.”
Trump is scheduled to visit the border Thursday in McAllen, a city of 143,000 on the river.
Congress in March funded 33 miles (53 kilometers) of walls and fencing in Texas. The government has laid out plans that would cut across private land in the Rio Grande Valley. Those in the way include landowners who have lived in the valley for generations, environmental groups and a 19th century chapel.
Many have hired lawyers who are preparing to fight the government if, as expected, it moves to seize their land through eminent domain.
The opposition will intensify if Democrats accede to the Trump administration’s demand to build more than 215 new miles of wall, including 104 miles in the Rio Grande Valley and 55 miles near Laredo. Even a compromise solution to build “steel slats,” as Trump has suggested, or more fencing of the kind that Democrats have previously supported would likely trigger more court cases and pushback in Texas.
Legal experts say Trump likely cannot waive eminent domain — which requires the government to demonstrate a public use for the land and provide landowners with compensation — by declaring a national emergency.
While this is Trump’s first visit to the border in Texas as president, his administration’s immigration crackdown has been felt here for months.
Hundreds of the more than 2,400 children separated from their parents last summer were detained in cages at a Border Patrol facility in McAllen. Three “tender-age” facilities for the youngest children were opened in this region.
The president also ordered soldiers to the border in response to a wave of migrant caravans before the November election. Those troops had a heavy presence in the Rio Grande Valley, though they have since quietly left. A spokeswoman for the border security mission said they closed their base camp along the border on Dec. 22.
But Trump’s border wall will last beyond his administration. Building in the region is a top priority for the Department of Homeland Security because it’s the busiest area for illegal border crossings. More than 23,000 parents and children were caught illegally crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley in November — more than triple the number from a year earlier.
Homeland Security officials argue that a wall would stop many crossings and deter Central American families from trying to migrate north. Many of those families are seeking asylum because of violence in their home countries and often turn themselves in to border agents when they arrive here.
The number of families has surged. DHS said Wednesday that it detained 27,518 adults and children traveling together on the southern border in December, a new monthly high.
With part of the $1.6 billion Congress approved in March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced it would build 25 miles (40 kilometers) of wall along the flood-control levee in Hidalgo County, which runs well north of the Rio Grande.
Congress did not allow construction of any of Trump’s wall prototypes. But the administration’s plans call for a concrete wall to the height of the existing levee, with 18-foot (5.5 meters) steel posts on top. CBP wants to clear 150 feet (45 meters) in front of any new construction for an “enforcement zone” of access roads, cameras, and lighting.
The government sued the local Roman Catholic diocese late last year to gain access for its surveyors at the site of La Lomita chapel, which opened in 1865 and was an important site for missionaries who traveled the Rio Grande Valley by horseback.
It remains an epicenter of the Rio Grande Valley’s Catholic community, hosting weddings and funerals, as well as an annual Palm Sunday procession that draws 2,000 people.
The chapel is a short distance from the Rio Grande. It falls directly into the area where CBP wants to build its “enforcement zone.”
The diocese said it opposes a border wall because the barrier violates Catholic teachings and the church’s responsibility to protect migrants, as well as the church’s First Amendment right of religious freedom. A legal group from Georgetown University has joined the diocese in its lawsuit.
Father Roy Snipes leads prayers each Friday for his chapel to be spared. Wearing a cowboy hat with his white robe and metal cross, he’s known locally as the “cowboy priest” and sometimes takes a boat on the Rio Grande to go from his home to the chapel.
“It would poison the water,” Snipes said. “It would still be a sacred place, but it would be a sacred place that was desecrated.”
The Cavazos family’s roughly 64 acres (0.25 square kilometers) were first purchased by their grandmother 60 years ago.
They rent some of the property to tenants who have built small houses or brought in trailers, charging some as little as $1,000 a year. They live off the earnings from the land and worry that a fence would deter renters and turn their property into a “no man’s land.”
On the rest of the property are plywood barns, enclosures for cattle and goats, and a wooden deck that extends into the river, which flows serenely east toward the Gulf of Mexico. Eloisa’s brother, Fred, can sit on the deck in his wheelchair and fish with a rod fashioned from a long carrizo reed plucked from the riverbank.
Surveyors examined their property in December under federal court order. The family hasn’t yet received an offer for their land, but their lawyers at the Texas Civil Rights Project expect a letter with an offer will arrive in the coming weeks.
“Everybody tells us to sell and go to a better place,” Eloisa Cavazos said. “This is heaven to us.”
Over 60 House members — including half the Democrats on Judiciary — favor starting Trump impeachment inquiry
Here are the 66 members of the House of Representatives who favor starting an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. There are 65 Democrats — including 13 of the 24 Democrats who serve on the House Judiciary Committee — and one Republican.
- Alma Adams, N.C.
- Nanette Barragán, Calif.
- Don Beyer, Va.
- Earl Blumenauer, Ore.
- Suzanne Bonamici, Ore.
- Brendan Boyle, Penn.
- G.K. Butterfield, N.C.
- Joaquin Castro, Texas
- David Cicilline, R.I. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Yvette Clarke, N.Y.
- Steve Cohen, Tenn. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Danny K. Davis, Ill.
- Madeleine Dean, Penn. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Diana DeGette, Colo.
- Val Demings, Fla. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Mark DeSaulnier, Calif.
- Lloyd Doggett, Texas
- Veronica Escobar, Texas (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Adriano Espaillat, N.Y.
- Dwight Evans, Penn.
- Marcia Fudge, Ohio
- Jesús García, Ill.
- Mary Gay Scanlon, Penn. (Vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Al Green, Texas
- Raul Grijalva, Ariz. (Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee)
- Jared Huffman, Calif.
- Pramila Jayapal, Wash. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Robin Kelly, Ill.
- Barbara Lee, Calif.
- Andy Levin, Mich.
- Ted Lieu, Calif. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Alan Lowenthal, Calif.
- Tom Malinowski, N.J.
- Carolyn Maloney, N.Y.
- Betty McCollum, Minn.
- Jim McGovern, Mass. (Chairman of the House Rules Committee)
- Gwen Moore, Wis.
- Seth Moulton, Mass.
- Grace Napolitano, Calif.
- Joe Neguse, Colo. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, N.Y.
- Ilhan Omar, Minn.
- Bill Pascrell, N.J.
- Chellie Pingree, Me.
- Mark Pocan, Wis.
- Ayanna Pressley, Mass.
- Mike Quigley, Ill.
- Jamie Raskin, Md. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Kathleen Rice, N.Y.
- Cedric Richmond, La. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Bobby Rush, Ill.
- Tim Ryan, Ohio
- Brad Sherman, Calif.
- Jackie Speier, Calif.
- Greg Stanton, Arizona (Member of the House Judiciary Committee)
- Bennie Thompson, Miss. (Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee)
- Rashida Tlaib, Mich.
- Paul Tonko, N.Y.
- Norma Torres, Calif.
- Juan Vargas, Calif.
- Filemon Vela, Texas
- Maxine Waters, Calif. (Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee)
- John Yarmuth, Ky. (Chairman of the House Budget Committee)
- Eric Swalwell, Calif. (Member of the House Judiciary Committee, member of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 2020 presidential candidate)
- Dan Kildee, Mich. (chief deputy whip of House Democratic caucus)
Justin Amash, Mich.
CORRECTION (May 30, 2019, 1:25 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the position of Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., on beginning an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Rouda has said he supports an impeachment inquiry only if Trump does not comply with congressional subpoenas, not before.
Dartunorro Clark contributed.
Tory ballot vote: What time is second ballot on the Tory leadership today? Who will go?
VOTING commences once again today as Tory MPs undergo a second round at the polls to decide their next leader. What time is the second ballot for the Tory leadership race and who will be kicked off?
Supreme Court declines to change double jeopardy rule in a case with Manafort implications
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court declined on Monday to change the longstanding rule that says putting someone on trial more than once for the same crime does not violate the Constitution’s protection against double jeopardy — a case that drew attention because of its possible implications for President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
The 7-2 ruling was a defeat for an Alabama man, Terance Gamble, convicted of robbery in 2008 and pulled over seven years later for a traffic violation. When police found a handgun in his car, he was prosecuted under Alabama’s law barring felons from possessing firearms. The local U.S. attorney then charged Gamble with violating a similar federal law. Because of the added federal conviction, his prison sentence was extended by nearly three years.
The Fifth Amendment says no person shall be “twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” for the same offense. But for more than 160 years, the Supreme Court has ruled that being prosecuted once by a state and again in federal court, or the other way around, for the same crime doesn’t violate the protection against double jeopardy because the states and the federal government are “separate sovereigns.”
The case attracted more than the usual attention because of the prospect that Trump may pardon Manafort, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for violating federal fraud laws. A presidential pardon could free him from federal prison, but it would not protect him from being prosecuted on similar state charges, which were filed by New York. Overturning the rule allowing separate prosecutions for the same offenses would have worked in Manafort’s favor.
Gamble’s lawyer, Louis Chaiten of Cleveland, said the nation’s founders understood the protection against double jeopardy to ban any second prosecution for the same offense. Under English common law, the roots of American law, there was no “separate sovereigns” exception. A person could not be put on trial in England if already tried for the same offense in another country.
Chaiten also argued that the states and the federal government are not truly independent anyway and are instead part of a complete national system. He quoted Alexander Hamilton, who described them as “kindred systems, part of one whole.”
And Chaiten said Congress has made the problem worse by dramatically expanding the number and scope of federal laws in recent years, creating more duplication with state laws — something never envisioned in earlier court decisions that allowed double prosecutions.
But the Trump administration said the longstanding double jeopardy rule allows states and the federal government to pursue distinct interests without interfering with each other. Changing the current understanding by barring subsequent prosecutions would allow foreign court actions to preclude U.S. trials for crimes against Americans, the government said.
Civil liberties groups also said the rule has allowed the federal government to pursue notorious civil rights violations that states were unwilling or unable to pursue.
Gamble’s argument appealed to some of the court’s liberals and conservatives. Two years ago, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas joined liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in saying that the court’s past double jeopardy rulings were due for a “fresh examination.”
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