LA ROSITA, Texas —
A Rio Grande Valley family is fighting to stop President Donald Trump’s border wall from cutting through their ancestral land, while at the same time keeping the fight a secret from a terminally-ill loved one.
The Alvarez family said the government came knocking on their door in November to tell them they wanted to take a piece of their land passed on from five generations for a border wall.
At the same time, retired Starr County deputy Leonel Alvarez is worried about spending the last few moments with his wife Anita, who suffered from brain cancer.
“We’ve been married 50 years plus,” he said.
Alvarez hadn't thought about what would be fair compensation for the nine miles of their land the government is seeking.
His daughter Nayda took the border wall fight to Washington, but she said testifying before Congress was like talking to a wall.
“Here we are fighting a battle with the U.S. government and yet fighting a battle with my mother and her illness,” Nayda said.
With no money to hire a lawyer and little power to fight the government’s right to take land through eminent domain, Nayda feels like plans for a wall in the community of La Rosita is imminent.
A letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection indicates the nine acres of land they wish to survey is part of the president’s mission to halt the flow of illegal drugs and human trafficking.
But Nayda doesn’t buy it.
“If I saw an invasion… do you think i would put my family at risk? No, I would be the first one out of here,” she said.
In an act of protest, Nayda decided to make her opposition to a wall very clear by painting a message on her roof that read “no border wall.”
“That message is for Trump,” she said.
It’s not clear when the government plans to move forward with seizing their property. Funding for a wall in Starr County was approved in February as part of the deal to end the government shutdown.
While the clock continues to tick in this border wall showdown, there was no time left for Anita to see that battle through. She died a week after the KENS 5 Border Team interviewed Nayda.
“Life is like that,” noted Alvarez. “I don’t think we deserve this because we are citizens of the United States.”
Focus for the Alvarez’s now is on saving their land.
“This is the only other thing we have because this is something that we can stop,” said Nayda.