For more than 45 years, my family has owned and operated our transportation business in the heart of the El Segundo Barrio of El Paso, Texas, on the border of the United States and Mexico. It is a vibrant, diverse community and a hub for entrepreneurial small businesses. In 2006, the city of El Paso declared the area a demolition zone, in spite of the thriving businesses and well-kept homes located there. City officials tried to use eminent domain to replace properties with high-end retail stores and condominiums. They claimed that the whole neighborhood was blighted and tried to eradicate us.
The redevelopment plan was proposed by an organization of real estate developers and big-business owners, who announced that whoever refused to sell their property to the city would have it taken over with the hammer of eminent domain. I could not believe the city had joined them in an attempt to confiscate our property and destroy the livelihoods of the numerous families who owned or worked in businesses in the demolition zone. Many El Pasoans went to several city council meetings to voice our opposition to this land grab.
When my family and I faced losing our business, the Institute for Justice intervened. With their help, we took on city officials and the developers. IJ’s activism team assisted us in the fight to keep our business, and our plight was featured in the Erase Us Out report on eminent domain abuse. Thankfully, Texas passed a major state constitutional amendment in 2009 that saved the area and our properties from eminent domain abuse. IJ’s work on our behalf was instrumental in passing this bill and preserving the rights of Texas property owners.
No one should ever have their property stolen. After my family’s struggle with the city of El Paso, I knew I wanted to play a role in protecting property owners from an overbearing government. So I began to donate on a monthly basis to IJ, in celebration of the great work that it is doing in the battle to protect property rights. IJ has a great history of assisting many citizens in protecting their properties and livelihoods. I have experienced firsthand the tremendous impact IJ has in the fight for liberty. As a member of the Merry Band of Monthly Donors, I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with IJ’s clients, knowing that the Institute for Justice is making a long-term impact through my investment.
Marvin Rosenbaum is part-owner of El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine Express, Inc., and a member of IJ’s Merry Band of Monthly Donors.