Three tenants are Border Patrol agents, and Father Roy Snipes docks his old motorboat there. “The poor people would not come here anymore if they had to be interrogated by border … “The symbols clash,” Snipes said. The chapel is nearly as old as the border itself, and Snipes, known locally as Father Roy, has been serving worshippers there since 1980. They don't see what goes on, on a day to day basis. Rene Villarreal is a 51-year-old electrical contractor and a father of five sons. The next court battle will be over the government's plan to actually seize the land and start building. The chapel is made of simple white adobe, and Roy Rogers' song "Blue Shadows On The Trail" plays from a battery-operated radio in the chilly pre-dawn gloom as Rev. Valley residents have lost homes, backyards, and businesses to the no-man’s-land created by Bush- and Barack Obama–era walls. The U.S. government sued the La Lomita Chapel's property owners, the Diocese of Brownsville, for access to the land to conduct a survey for construction of a border wall … The military presence only foreshadowed what might be an even starker federal presence at the chapel: La Lomita stands in the proposed path of President Trump’s border wall. At issue is a chapel in Mission, Texas, about 75 miles west of the mouth of the Rio Grande. Constructed in 1865 by missionaries, the chapel is located close to the U.S. border … Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is a biological treasure that provides habitat for more than 400 species of birds, over 300 species of butterflies and at least eight species protected under the Endangered Species Act, including the critically imperiled ocelot. Today, Defenders of Wildlife launches a new interactive story map which details how border wall construction would impact the people, places and wildlife of the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) in Texas. Dozens of people packed into the one-room chapel Friday to pray that the 19th century mission known as La Lomita, perched on a hill above the Rio Grande, won’t be sealed off behind a border fence. In December 2018, the Georgetown University Law Center's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) filed a brief in support of the diocese. A week later, priests from the border towns of Brownsville and Roma gathered at Snipes’s place for a “bachelor Thanksgiving” replete with Lone Star, canned beans, and instant mashed potatoes. The Diocese of Brownsville has been contesting the possible construction of a border wall near La Lomita Chapel for months. NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks with Father Roy Snipes, whose chapel sits on the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. It was the same message he delivered to President Trump when he met him last month during Trump's border visit. The La Lomita Chapel in Mission, Texas, may be spared U.S.-Mexico border wall construction if Congress passes and President Donald Trump signs the bipartisan spending bill. … In the days before the 2018 midterm election, President Trump deployed 5,900 troops to the border. The planned border wall would leave the property in the no-man’s-land, behind a 30-foot wall. NPR's Francesca Paris produced this story for Digital. hide caption. There are no regularly scheduled religious services held at the chapel, but it is occasionally used for weddings, funerals, and other cultural events. Father Roy Snipes after he led a procession to the La Lomita Chapel in August 2017 in Mission in opposition to construction of border wall. La Lomita Park in Mission, TX, is home to La Lomita Chapel. “Stay united when I go to heaven,” she advised. Roy Snipes began teaching in an unincorporated Rio Grande Valley town in 1968. "Out of all those 250 agents, not one of them was against it. Father Roy Snipes after he led a procession to the La Lomita Chapel in August 2017 in Mission in opposition to construction of border wall. O'Caña says once the wall is built, it will cut off access to city services, like 911, for Mission's residents on the other side. Monika Evstatieva /NPR “Opposing the wall doesn’t mean we want to have an open border,” Snipes told me, “but it does mean we really want to treat people the way we would like to be treated.” Quietly but routinely, Snipes offers sanctuary to immigrants who approach the church seeking help. Back at La Lomita chapel, the post-Mass meal is winding down. La Lomita Chapel lies between the river and the flood control levee that parallels the river to the north. "What's different about this," she says, "Is that government can't take action that substantially burdens the free exercise of religion and that is not only part of the First Amendment, but it's also part of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 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