FIRST ON FOX: Brent Smith sees firsthand how illegal immigrants have taken their toll on ranchers and farmers along the US-Mexico border, from regular property damage to the constant fear of going out at night.
Smith, the lawyer for Kinney County in Texas, said he was pursuing a slight increase in cases of trespassing by undocumented immigrants trying to escape the border patrol and cross the United States on private property in Texas.
Raised in a family of ranchers, Smith also receives ears from local landowners whose fences are regularly damaged by illegal immigrants who cut them down or cross them with stolen vehicles in an attempt to enter the United States.
Ranchers must constantly patrol their fences for breaks and move around to repair them quickly to ensure their livestock don’t escape onto the freeway, posing a danger to motorists, Smith said. The daily struggle wreaks havoc on the farming community and on their bank accounts.
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“We end up with no one paying for the fence,” Smith told Fox News. “There is no insurance company that covers this. So farmers and ranchers themselves have to pay for it.
“People here are absolutely fed up,” Smith continued, referring to the influx of illegal immigration. “I know a few families who move and leave the county because of the danger.”
But some relief may be on the way.
Representative August Pfluger, R-Texas, introduced bipartisan legislation in the House to reimburse farmers and ranchers on the front lines of the border crisis for the vandalism and damage they suffered.
The legislation would reprogram $ 300 million from unused coronavirus rescue dollars and create a new fund to pay farmers for damage caused by illegal immigration, including livestock losses, crop losses and damage, perimeter fencing replacements, damage to physical structures and loss of property.
Pfluger told Fox News that President Biden’s border policies have exacerbated the problems and that farmers and ranchers are losing millions to the damage.
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“The magnitude of this problem is now so problematic that every rancher in a border county feels the pain,” said Pfluger, who recently visited the southern border with former President Trump.
The legislation is endorsed by the Texas Farm Bureau and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In addition to Pfluger, the bill is sponsored by another Republican, Representative Tony Gonzales, and two Democrats, Representatives Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez, all from Texas.
“The Texans should not be responsible for losses caused by the Biden border crisis and are entitled to reimbursement for the damages they suffered,” Gonzales said in a statement to Fox News.
Lawmakers say farmers and ranchers are entitled to reimbursement for restoring their property.
“The cost of illegal immigration is increasing,” Cuellar said in a statement to Fox News. “Farmers and ranchers face damage to their crops and homes from illegal immigrants breaking in to avoid law enforcement.
“Locally, Texas farms and ranches cover over 125 million acres of land. These farms and ranches have been essential in keeping food in our grocery stores during the pandemic. “
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Advocates for the legislation say what is really needed is a permanent solution to the border crisis to stem the tide of migrants flocking to the United States, but until then struggling farmers and ranchers need help. ‘immediate help.
“We must continue to work together to tackle the root causes of migration to prevent these incidents from happening,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Smith says farmers and ranchers in his border hometown are living in fear.
“We can’t go out at night anymore,” Smith said. “Once it gets dark you better be armed if you’re outside.”
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“It has become even more dangerous. Where we live, we do not enjoy the same freedoms as other Americans,” Smith continued. “We can no longer go out into our garden. We can no longer picnic outside without fear of illegal aliens falling on us. Cartels are currently operating on both sides of the border with impunity.”
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