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Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Halting Border Wall Construction Near Historic Cemetery

Reynaldo Leaños Jr. | Texas Public Radio
Veterans are buried in the Eli Jackson Cemetery, where border wall construction is happening 20 feet away.

Border wall construction near a historic cemetery in the Rio Grande Valley is now on hold after a state district judge signed a temporary injunction Wednesday.

Judge Israel Ramon Jr. ordered Southwest Valley Constructors Co. to stop their work near the Eli Jackson Cemetery in Pharr. Veterans from multiple U.S. battles are buried at the sites, including the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War. 

The cemetery was certified as a historic site in 2005, and descendants of those buried at Eli Jackson have fought against border barrier construction since September 2018. They argue the project would cause irreparable harm and destroy burial plots.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection told TPR, "It has never been CBP’s intent to disturb or relocate cemeteries that may lie within planned barrier alignment."

CBP officials added that during construction activities, “the boundary of the cemetery and chapel will be clearly delineated and an environmental monitor will be present daily to ensure construction best management practices are adhered to by the construction contractor as well as to halt any work should any historical or culturally sensitive artifacts be identified.”

The project is part of the Trump administration's efforts to construct up to 450 miles of new border wall by the end of this year.

The next hearing will be held when the temporary restraining order expires on Sept. 29.

Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.

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Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren