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Border land returned to Texas family after it was seized for wall

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

The Biden administration will return the land of a Texas family after seizing the property earlier this year for border wall construction, according to a Tuesday court filing.

Since 2018, the Cavazos family had been fighting to keep their 6.5 acres of property located along the US-Mexico border from being taken for wall construction. But in April, a federal judge ruled the federal government could take “immediate possession” of the land, delivering a blow to the family who thought the case would be dropped under the Biden administration.

Generally, the government is allowed to acquire privately owned land for public use. Under then-President Donald Trump, officials moved at a faster rate to obtain land to build border barriers. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has moved to return land after ceasing construction.

Now, nine months later, the Cavazos family is among those getting their land back after reaching an agreement with the federal government.

“Now that we have successfully stopped the construction of a needless and wasteful border wall on their property, Ms. Cavazos and her family will be able to continue their quiet and fulfilling life beside the Rio Grande,” the Texas Civil Rights Project, which is representing the family, said in a tweet Tuesday.

“I would like to thank my cousin, Rey Anzaldua, my brother, Alfredo Cavazos, and my sister, Baudilia Rodriguez for their continued support and tireless efforts through the process of redeeming our family’s land these past four years resulting in this unbelievably positive outcome. I am deeply grateful to everyone who has been involved in this undertaking,” Eloisa Cavazos said in a statement.

The Biden administration has been canceling border wall contracts throughout the year, marking a reversal from his predecessor who sought to get more barriers in place. The cancellation of wall contracts in the Rio Grande Valley is particularly significant for landowners who over the course of the Trump administration fought to keep their property.

“I don’t have words to describe my joy,” Pamela Rivas previously told CNN when she learned that her land that sits along the Rio Grande Valley had been returned. Rivas’ case dated to 2008, but she said picked up speed under the Trump administration.

“It was bittersweet at the beginning because my father wasn’t here to see the outcome. At the same time, I was just thrilled,” she said.

Since 2017, more than 450 miles have been built in multiple locations along the US southern border, including roughly 52 miles where no barrier previously existed, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

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