A federal judge will hear arguments Friday for an emergency temporary restraining order to stop construction near historic cemeteries after claims that construction is causing damage to, among other things, burial plots.
On Tuesday, the attorney representing several members of two families, descendants of the historic Jackson Ranch Church & Cemetery, and the Eli Jackson Cemetery respectively, filed an emergency temporary restraining order in federal court stating that the current construction by Southwest Valley Contractors Co. was causing damage to the cemeteries.
The emergency filing, made on the same day President Trump made a likely final visit to the Rio Grande Valley to tout the border wall construction near the cemeteries, Mission-based attorney Samuel Reyes filed the order stating in part that the contractor’s work had caused “the cemetery ground to suffer fissures, ground settling of (families’) graves, shifting and damage to the burial plots and gravestones at the Eli Jackson Cemetery.”
Reyes argued in the Jan. 11 filing that based on personal knowledge and signed affidavits from 10 different plaintiffs, that they believe there is imminent danger of irreparable harm to them if construction continues.
In short, they want the contractors to be pushed back at least 500 feet away from the two cemeteries.
“Plaintiffs request a (TRO) prohibiting any heavy machinery or construction within 500 feet of the Eli Jackson Cemetery and Jackson Ranch Church and Cemetery,” the document read.
Reyes stated that plaintiffs are prepared to present evidence to the court, including videos, photos and other “relevant documents” of the damage.
The original filing made in state district court by the families in September 2020 against Southwest Valley Contractors Co., asked that court to have the contractors be denied construction within 100 feet of the properties.
A separate but similar lawsuit entered in by descendants of the Jackson Ranch Church and Cemetery, was added to the Sept. 15, 2020 filing from the descendants of the Eli Jackson Cemetery, consolidating the suits.
The lawsuit was moved to federal court in late November 2020, records show.
The Jackson Ranch & Cemetery was certified by the Texas Historical Commission in 1983 while the Eli Jackson Cemetery was certified in 2005. Veterans from multiple U.S. battles are buried at the sites, including Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War to name a few.