Second order handed down in historic cemeteries case

Second order handed down in historic cemeteries case

For the second time a state judge granted a temporary restraining order against contractors working near historically designated land.

On Monday, 430th state District Court Judge Israel Ramon granted a TRO for Sylvia Ramirez and her brother Ramiro Ramirez descendants of the historic Jackson Ranch Church & Cemetery who were added to an already pending lawsuit filed on Sept. 15.

(Click here to read the TRO.)

In the filing Ramiro Ramirez claims, the defendant, Southwest Valley Contractors Co., began construction to the west of his property, Jackson Ranch Church and Cemetery, in a “hurried manner,” which has caused “excessive shaking and vibrations to the Jackson Ranch Church and Cemetery grounds.”

The original complaint, filed Sept. 15 on behalf of more than 20 members and relatives of the Singleterry family, asked the court to “restrain (Southwest Valley Contractors Co.) from continuing such destructive construction of the roadway and border wall or barrier within 100 feet from the historic Eli Jackson Cemetery,” the document states.

The newly filed and granted TRO added the Jackson Ranch property, and its owner, Ramiro Ramirez to the complaint.

Mission-based attorney, Samuel Reyes, who is representing the families in the lawsuit, confirmed the second TRO was granted by Judge Ramon.

Reyes, who was expected in court Tuesday to argue for an injunction against the defendant in the case, said that all pending state proceedings would be stayed after the defendants filed to move the case to federal court.

Judge Ramon granted the new TRO Monday morning just as he had two weeks earlier for the Eli Jackson property. The TRO restrains Southwest Valley Contractors Co. from continued construction near the Jackson Ranch Church & Cemetery.

Reyes stated that although the new TRO protects the Jackson Church and Cemetery from construction for two weeks; the TRO for the Eli Jackson property expired Tuesday which leaves that property unprotected from construction.

Reyes said another TRO could potentially be filed in federal court order to protect the Eli Jackson property prior to the next scheduled hearing in November.

Relatives of the Jackson Ranch Church & Cemetery, founded in 1857, have been publicly fighting against the construction of a border wall near their descendants’ land since September 2018.

After a year of public pressure on the government, with help from members of Congress, a bill passed in December 2019 secured language that would prevent a border wall from cutting through the historical sites.

Despite their efforts, wall construction commenced anew at the beginning of August not on the historic land as the language’s bill had conveyed, but near the land, undercutting the spirit of the bill’s purpose, according to relatives of the properties.

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.

A message left for a member of the Singleterry family requesting comment went unreturned as of this posting.

Sylvia Ramirez said she was pleased with the quickness with which Reyes was able to get the order before the court. She expressed optimism with the recently granted order.

“(We are) very happy about the TRO,” Sylvia Ramirez said Tuesday afternoon. “We also look forward to the case proceeding, and that ultimately the church and the cemeteries will be protected from any negative effects of the border wall.”

An initial conference in the federal lawsuit is set for early November, records show.