Maria Flores and her siblings have owned a 16-acre property along a bend in the Rio Grande River for so long none of them can remember when their family acquired it.
On January 12, her daughter, Yvette Salinas, received a legal notice from the Department of Homeland Security with a 21-page "Declaration of Taking," offering Flores $2,900 for 1.2 acres of her property along the river.
"The United States of America is acquiring property along its border with Mexico in order to construct a fence and related improvements designed to secure the border," the letter said. "The purpose of this letter is to confer about the amount of just compensation in this case."
"It's scary when you read it," Salinas told The Texas Observer. "You feel like you have to sign."
Flores has the option to refuse the offer, but the government could then seize it, with compensation, through eminent domain.
And the budget proposal submitted by President Donald Trump on Thursday suggests his administration is gearing up for a fight over properties like the Flores family's.