Landowners on the Texas border feel it’s a fight greater than David versus Goliath, a back-and-forth battle over their land and whether the government will seize it to build a border wall.
One woman vows to defend her town from what she considers to be a government land grab.
Tucked away in one of the pockets of the Texas-Mexico border is a town of local heroes and long-standing traditions.
Los Ebanos (Spanish for ebony tree) is home to about 100 families whose ancestors settled long before there was ever a border.
Five generations of the Flores family have grown-up in Paloma Ranch, a 29-acre property located at the southern end of town.
“The border wall marking is right here,” said Aleida Flores as she pointed to an old ribbon wrapped around a wire fencing.
Flores says that government officials have recently been surveying the area for the border wall.
The last time she was confronted by the feds was 10 years ago, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was looking to acquire nearly half an acre of her property.
“My property was going to be divided in half,” she said.
But they ultimately dropped that pursuit, although they never told the family why.
Since then, Flores that she has an even greater appreciation for her land. She says that the serenity she finds in her ranch, with the chirping of birds and the sound of wind blowing through the cypress trees, has helped her fight against her lymphoma.
“Sometimes I just like to yell my head off here and hear my echo,” Flores said.
That serene state of mind is becoming interrupted more often by the increasing presence of Border Patrol agents, whether high above in helicopters and aerostats or eyes on the ground in SUV units and mobile watchtowers.
Flores says that she welcomes the Border Patrol and the new technology they’re using, but she’s convinced that a wall won’t work. Plus, with President Donald Trump ordering construction of the wall, Flores knows that she could, once again, risk losing access to her property.
“That’s all I want to fight [for], my property, my history, my memories,” she said. “For my sake and for all those people that are buried in the cemetery right now.”
Finding a solution for both sides is hard. The Flores family admits that the country needs better border security. They just want a plan that doesn’t leave families without their own land.
“I hope this makes sense to some people. But it hurts. It really, really hurts,” she said. “And that’s what I hate about it. But if I have to speak, and speak, and I’m the only one, I’m going to go ahead and do it, even if I have to lose.”