Texas Farmers Want Biden Admin To Pay For Damages From Illegal Immigration

Farmers in Texas have had it with human traffickers streaming illegal immigrants  across the border under President Joe Biden’s watch as they claim that “coyotes abandon people, steal vehicles, vandalize property, and threaten the safety and livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. They are now demanding that the White House write them a check to compensate for these damages.

The New York Post reported that the country’s largest farmer organization has been working behind the scenes this summer to recoup the money that its members had to fork over during the first six months of the Biden administration to cover a variety of issues prompted by a surge in illegal migration at the US-Mexico border, where immigrants are being apprehended while attempting to illegally enter the US.

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Farmers, especially those hundreds of miles north of the border, are seeing human traffickers drive automobiles through their fields of crops, homes smashed into, and families left stranded on their land, according to Texas Farm Bureau president Russell Boening.

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The report noted that the American Farm Bureau Federation, all 50 state bureaus, and the Puerto Rico Farm Bureau sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in early June, requesting that the Biden administration address the problems that local border communities are facing.

“Coyotes abandon people, steal vehicles, vandalize property and threaten the safety and livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. They are often criminals who smuggle drugs and firearms into the country, frequently leaving them on farmers’ and ranchers’ property, causing unrest for farm and ranch families,” the letter said according to The Post.

Agricultural bureau officials noted how growing illegal immigration was affecting landowners across Texas, but also the need for financial aid due to the catastrophe it is bringing.

“Local and state border security resources have been exhausted, leaving little help for farmers and ranchers. We respectfully request federal authorities work promptly to provide additional resources and enforce legal immigration to secure US borders,” they said.

The total financial cost is still unknown, but Boening said the assistance should cover for destroyed fences, stolen pickup trucks, and wrecked crops.

“You have that economic issue and then you have just the safety issue — the mental strain — and to a certain extent being afraid for your own safety on your own property when you’re out checking crops, checking livestock, doing things just in your normal course of business,” he added.

Financial burden to farmers cited

The official said that farmers and ranchers who live near the border are used to seeing migrants on their land and even helping the occasional passerby in need of water or a ride into town — but the situation has changed dramatically since January, not only in terms of the number of people crossing, but also in terms of the involvement of cartels in the operations of bringing families and children into the country.

To avoid detection, Boening noted that a smuggler driving a vehicle filled with dozens of migrants being transported from the border to deeper within the state may drive through a field, inevitably going through fences that not only mark where property lines end, but also serve to keep livestock contained.

According to the bureau, the average cost of repairing a fence after a car smashes through it is between $1,000 and $4,000.

Richard Guerra, a fourth-generation rancher near Roma, Texas, some landowners are repairing fences numerous times a week.

Boening said according to the Post report that he’d heard about a farm in Lavaca County, some 200 miles north of the border, where the owner had just lost six fences. Apart from the cost of repairing the fence, ranchers noted that they also face the risk of animals escaping through destroyed fences, particularly if a vehicle smashes through it overnight. 

But for Guerra, who lives in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where more people attempt to cross the nearly 2,000-mile border than anywhere else,, this is not the most pressing concern.

He noted that fever tick — which comes from Mexico — is the biggest concern.

“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 to keep our cattle clean. Well, Mexico doesn’t,” Guerra said.

“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,” he added.

Farmers and ranchers must invest a significant amount of money and time to remove a fever tick outbreak according to Guerra. Hiring helicopters to spray for fever ticks alone is one expense that may cost up to $400 per hour.

Financial assistance from government sought

While some of the costs incurred by landowners can be reimbursed by insurance companies, for lost crops and fences that need to be rebuilt several times a week or month, landowners are frequently on their own.

They are now looking for government assistance like the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency which assists 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’s places that you can go apply and say, ‘OK, this is what I lost. Here’s my documentation,’” Boening said. “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 said last March that the state is dispatching National Guard troops to the border, as well as law enforcement from non-border states. He has also committed to build hundreds of miles of border wall along the state’s 1,250-mile border with Mexico — although none of these plans is seen to fully address the influx of migrants or the presence of cartels.

According to Boening, the federal government is responsible for resolving the issue as well as assisting individuals who have been affected — including migrants who have been harmed by the smuggling across the border.

“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,” Boening of the Texas Farm Bureau said. “I haven’t seen that yet,” he added.

The federal government counted almost 190,000 people trying to illegally cross the southwest border into the US just last month — representing a 5% increase from the already high-numbers seen in May. Border patrol agencies project one million unauthorized crossings in 2021.

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Steeve Strange

Steeve is the CEO & Co-Founder of The Scoop.

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