After years of struggling against the Trump administration’s plan to seize part of their family’s land in South Texas to build a border wall, the Cavazos siblings believed President Biden’s inauguration would end their fight.
Mr Biden had campaigned against the wall, promised a plan to resolve legal disputes with the owners and halted construction on the first day of his tenure.
“When he first became president, he said there was no longer a wall,” said Jose Alfredo Cavazos, owner of the land along the Rio Grande. “A godsend,” I said to myself. He will help us.
But on Tuesday, as the Biden administration missed a self-imposed deadline to resolve the tangled legal situation, a federal judge granted the government “immediate possession” of part of the family’s land.
“It appears that President Biden has broken his word,” said Baudilia Cavazos Rodriguez, 68, sister of Alfredo Cavazos.
The action appeared to be the result of bureaucratic failure rather than any kind of political choice, and so far it appears to be the only case of private land taken since Mr Biden took office. But more than 140 other South Texas landowners still face lawsuits from former President Donald J. Trump and are waiting to see if they will suffer the same fate.
The White House referred questions about the judge’s ruling to the Justice Department, which in turn cited a court file in which the Biden administration said it may stop searching for the land after completing a review of the land. policies of the border walls of the Trump administration. This review was supposed to be completed within 60 days, but is now several weeks overdue.
Abdullah Hasan, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Management and Budget, attributed the delay to the complexities created by the various lawsuits against the Trump administration for redirecting billions of dollars from the Defense Department and abandoning environmental laws to speed up construction of the wall.
“Under these circumstances, federal agencies continue to develop a plan for submission to the president shortly,” Hasan said.