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Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Sue Texas for Lost Land, Senate Says

By Loie Fecteau
Journal Politics Writer
    SANTA FE The state attorney general would be directed to sue Texas for the return of land taken from New Mexico due to an error in drawing the boundary between the two states, according to a bill approved unanimously by the Senate on Monday.
    The New Mexico attorney general also would seek compensation for subsurface mineral rights, oil and gas royalties and income, property taxes and grazing privileges "that New Mexico has not realized due to the boundary error," says the measure sponsored by Sen. Shannon Robinson, D-Albuquerque.
    Robinson said he was pushing the bill (committee substitute for SB 815) to honor former Sen. John Morrow, a Capulin Democrat who died in November. Morrow had sponsored similar bills during his tenure in the Senate, Robinson said.
    In 1859, a surveyor mistakenly set the New Mexico-Texas boundary too far west, cheating New Mexico out of a narrow strip of land totalling about 603,485 acres, Robinson said.
    The lives of people living in the disputed area would be vastly improved if New Mexico were to prevail "because they would no longer be Texans," Robinson said.
    "I can just see an uplifting of their own personal self-worth," Robinson said.
    Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said people now living in Texas border towns, such as Farwell, would benefit by becoming New Mexicans because "their property taxes would probably drop by 300 percent."
    The bill now goes to the House for consideration.