Texas farmers are upset with the nation’s current lack of border security — and they’re asking the White House to pay for damages caused by its reckless immigration stance.
The secretaries of the U.S. departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture and Interior wrote a message that saying, “the current situation should not be acceptable to you or any American. People are being treated as a disposable source of income, and landowners are living in fear while Coyotes [human smugglers] reap a windfall from leaving people destitute. You must not allow this to continue. On behalf of farm and ranch families and our communities, we urge you to recognize the crisis and take swift action.”
New York Post reported that farmers in Texas have had to pay countless dollars to fix damage caused by human traffickers and the illegal immigrants who have come into the United States so far this year.
Some of the financial damages caused by illegal immigration come in the form of stolen vehicles, damaged crops, and destroyed property, such as fences, which can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 to repair, the outlet reported.
They describe the plight of farmers and ranchers living along the southern border: “Farm and ranch families, many of whom have owned land for generations, are bearing the brunt of this unprecedented influx and have never seen a more dire situation. … their crops and property are being damaged, which in turn has caused financial hardship. … landowners are experiencing cut fences, destroyed crops, compromised water sources, vandalism, litter on their property and … the security and safety of these families are at stake…”
The Texas Farm Bureau also began publishing stories from along the southern border by farmers and ranchers impacted by illegal immigration in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Illegal immigration “threatens personal safety, causes serious financial hardship and disruption, and overwhelms local resources,” it states.
Some landowners are fixing fences multiple times a week, according to Richard Guerra, a fourth-generation rancher in Roma, Texas.
Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said he had heard of property in Lavaca County, more than 200 miles north of the border, where the owner recently lost six fences. On top of the cost of fixing the fence, ranchers risk livestock escaping through a fence hole, especially if a vehicle rams through the fence overnight. Farmers lose crops that are destroyed by vehicles driving through fields.
But that is not the biggest concern for Guerra, who lives in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where more people attempt to get across than any other part of the nearly 2,000-mile international boundary, in part because it is the most southern part of the US and the shortest distance from Central America, from where most migrants are traveling.
“The biggest expense is the fever tick. It comes from Mexico because Mexico does not do what the US government does. We have laws, we get restrictions, and then we have to abide by them to keep our cattle clean. Well, Mexico doesn’t,” said Guerra.
“But it’s not just limited to animals and horses. Some of these migrants also carry the fever tick [as a result of passing through Mexico into the US]. And when they step on your property, chances are they’re going to drop the tick.”
The cost and length of time that farmers and ranchers must spend to eradicate a fever tick breakout is exorbitant. One expense in resolving fever ticks is hiring helicopters to spray, up to $400 per hour, Guerra said.
Some of the costs sustained by landowners can be reimbursed by insurance companies, but for lost crops and fences that need to be rebuilt several times a week or month, the landowners are often on their own, and that is where they are looking for the government to help in a way similar to how the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency helps people affected by natural disasters.
“When there’s a disaster of some kind — people lose property or lose their home, or lose part of their property — there are places that you can go apply and say, ‘OK, this is what I lost. Here’s my documentation,’” said Boening. “We don’t have a direct way to do it. I mean, if the administration is going to come up with something, it’s going to have to be administered and run by them.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has deployed state law enforcement and National Guard to the border, as well as law enforcement from non-border states. He has vowed to put up hundreds of miles of border wall up and down the state’s 1,250-mile boundary with Mexico, but neither of those addresses the flow of people or cartels’ involvement.
Boening wants the federal government to resolve the issue and give help to those who have been impacted, including the migrants themselves who are victimized through the smuggling process.
Farm Bureau officials from Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas met with White House representatives four weeks ago.
Boening added that “they assured us that they were taking it to the administration, and they would get back with us on some things that the administration is doing, I haven’t seen that yet.”