Group seeking to protect historic church, cemetery from border wall construction

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Earlier this week, a group of Texas lawmakers hosted some border community residents who are suing the Trump administration over the proposed route of the border wall.

The group is trying to protect the Jackson Ranch Church and Cemetery – the first Protestant Church in the Rio Grande Valley – which are currently in the path of construction.

On Capitol Hill, advocates demanded Congress protect the historic land President Trump’s wall could run through.

“Congress cannot allow a wall to cut through our nature trails, our parks, our neighborhoods that we cherish,” Rio Grande International Study Center Executive Director Tricia Cortez said.

Cortez and other advocates say that’s what’s at stake with the border wall.

“How heinous is this that the Trump administration wants to go through and desecrate two historical cemeteries? Is nothing really that holy?” Raul Garcia asked.

Garcia represents Earthjustice, the group suing the Trump administration for what they call “real and dire impacts for communities living along the border.”

“For all those congressmen and senators out there that have preached that they stand by veterans: rhetoric is cheap. We expect you to act,” Garcia added.

The wall poses a major threat to two cemeteries in Texas holding the final resting places of veterans from both World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

“This is sacred land. It should not be touched by anybody,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat, D-New York.

“We shouldn’t be building any border wall whatsoever,” said Congressman Filemon Vela, D-Texas.

“Every single member of Congress who represents the southern border opposes the wall, opposes more wall funding. We know that it doesn’t work,” said Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, D-Texas.

Despite lawsuits and outrage from some members of Congress, the Trump administration maintains it will get the land needed for the wall.

“I still think that we’re on track to get the land that we need for 450 miles,” Acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Mark Morgan said.

Lawmakers say they will continue to resist and fight the wall that they say could rip communities apart.