April 26, 2023 824 PM
As the topics of immigration and border security continue to be contentious issues, the consequences of border crime go beyond politics. One group that has been particularly affected by border-related crimes is farmers and ranchers in Texas.
Across Far West Texas, I’ve listened to many stories from ranchers and farmers who have experienced significant and costly damage from trafficking and smuggling activity. Many times, the damage goes far beyond property damage. Some of the biggest problems relating to this issue are fence damage and the costs and time needed to repair them, livestock escaping caused by fence damage, crop damage, and rising insurance costs from landowners making claims for these events. These repairs cost upwards of $100,000, which is especially steep for many farmers and ranchers who are already in a pinch. Even those with insurance for their property find themselves at a loss as the damages caused by border crimes are oftentimes not covered.
For many farmers and ranchers, this leaves them with no other option but to turn to their hard-earned savings to cover repairs.
This issue has become a serious concern for many farmers and ranchers in Texas, posing a serious threat to their livelihoods and operations. Unfortunately, the situation is only worsening. According to the Senate Committee on Border Security Interim report, property damage caused by border-related crimes is a widespread issue affecting not only border communities but interior counties.
In response to the situation, I filed and passed SB1133 with bipartisan support to establish a program under the Office of the Attorney General to help farmers and ranchers who suffer property damage as a result of border-related trafficking and smuggling crimes.
Senate Bill 1133 is modeled after the Crime Victim’s Compensation (CVC) program to help victims and their immediate families with the financial costs of crime. However, farmers and ranchers who have experienced property damage caused by border-related crimes are not eligible under the CVC program. We should acknowledge these farmers and ranchers as victims of crime, and they should be compensated as such.
While we need Congress to step up and address our broken immigration and border security system, Senate Bill 1133 is a great bipartisan demonstration by the state of Texas to support its citizens and victims. Farmers and ranchers work tirelessly day in and day out to put
food on the table for families across America. I am proud to lead this fight to make sure our ranchers and farmers are supported and not left to fend for themselves!