“People are starting to believe that the American Dream is starting to slip from their reach,” Sen. Marco Rubio reportedly told a crowd of 500. “And you know what? If we keep doing what we are doing, that is exactly what will happen.”
As I read his warnings, I couldn’t help but think of Victor Fuentes, a man who is already seeing his American Dream slip away, unfortunately at the hands of the federal government. Just a day before Rubio spoke in Reno, the Las Vegas Sun featured Victor and his case, which is being fought by NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation.
The feature — which I encourage you to take a few minutes to read — tells the story of a man who swam seven miles to escape the tyranny of Cuba, sought asylum in the United States and eventually purchased a camp for his church in the Nevada desert. He had achieved what immigrants and natural-born citizens all hope for.
Now, that American Dream he’s worked for over 20 years to achieve has all but been destroyed by the Fish & Wildlife Service.
In 2010, acting contrary to the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, the federal government rerouted a spring-fed stream that ran through the church’s private property since at least 1881, moving it just outside the property line. On Christmas Eve and after the first significant rainfall, the stream returned to its historical path and the ensuing flooding damaged the church camp to the tune of $86,000. And, since the stream was moved off the property, Victor and his church, Ministerio Roca Solida (Solid Rock), are unable to baptize people in the stream’s waters at their Patch of Heaven camp.
The case, which is being fought in courts here in Nevada and a portion of which could be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, raises several important questions: Is it OK for the federal government to take a person’s property (in this case, water) without due process? In violating a person’s Constitutional rights, may the federal government also cause tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage without compensation? May the federal government prevent its people from carrying out their religion?
The case is important for all Americans and it’s precisely why the CJCL took on this case years ago. If the federal government is allowed to prevail in this case, not only will one man’s American Dream be forever destroyed, but a dangerous precedent will be set that chips away at others’ hopes of achieving the American Dream as well.
The American Dream is something worth fighting for and with the support of people like you who are willing to stand up to unconstitutional acts by the government, it will continue to be something Americans work to achieve for generations to come.
Sharon Rossie is president of Nevada Policy Research Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank that produces and shares ideas and information that empowers people. For more information, please visit www.NPRI.org.