Federal judge rules La Lomita Chapel can be surveyed by federal government
The legal fight over the historic La Lomita Chapel continued on Wednesday against the federal government. It's a fight beginning in October when the Diocese of Brownsville refused to let the government survey their land.
A judge ruled in favor of the federal government to survey the land for the construction of the border wall.
According to the Diocese’s attorney, David Garza, surveying could start next week or in six months.
"I come here to say my rosary outside because watching the sunset is beautiful, just to mediate or sometimes I will bring the dog,” said Rachel Welliver, a church visitor.
Welliver has also been attending mass every Friday for the last eight Fridays here at La Lomita.
"To save the Lomita basically," mentioned Welliver.
The masses are a part of Father Roy Snipes novena, "This will be the ninth Friday, this upcoming Friday, but now all the folks are saying let’s start a new novena as soon as this one is over because our worries are not over. Our problems are not over, so we probably will."
On Wednesday, a judge ruled in favor of the federal government, allowing them to survey the property for the border wall.
Garza says the lawsuit was not to take the property, just to survey it, but that would be the next step.
"If they decided that they want to proceed forward and take the land then they would have a specific dimensions of the land that they want to take. They would have to send an offer to take the land and at that time, if we refused, if the diocese refused, then that is when they would file the new suit to actually take it," said Garza.
According to Garza, the federal government will have temporary possession of the chapel for one year, meaning they could survey the land any time within that year.
"I don’t know how quickly the government would act. They could be ready to go out there and survey the next day or it could be a month from now or six months from now," said Garza.
Father Roy says to keep La Lomita in your prayers as they continue to fight to keep the historical site sacred.
Garza says the surveying shouldn’t take very long and that is why the judge ruled in favor of the government.
They expect the government to give them a 72-hour notice before entering the property.