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Texas rancher says illegal immigrants have caused $60,000 in property damages on his land: 'We don't have the same rights as other people do'
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Texas rancher says illegal immigrants have caused $60,000 in property damages on his land: 'We don't have the same rights as other people do'

A Texas rancher says he has sustained $60,000 in property damages because of the ongoing "invasion" of illegal immigrants coming across the southern border.

Brent Smith, a rancher and attorney from Kinney County, told Fox News on Monday that ranchers in the area where he lives have been forced to hire private security "to defend their own property rights."

"Us Americans, in this part of Texas, we don't have the same rights as other people do," Smith said. "We can't enjoy our property and go in our backyards anymore at night. It's a tragedy."

He harshly criticized President Joe Biden for neglecting to enforce immigration law by permitting migrants who cross the border illegally to be released from detention and enter the U.S.

Since assuming office, Biden has prioritized dismantling the immigration and border security policies of his predecessor President Donald Trump. Biden reinstated "catch and release" policies that ended under Trump, and he also canceled construction of a wall on the southern border and overturned the Trump administration's remain-in-Mexico policy requiring migrants to wait for their asylum cases to be processed before entering the U.S.

Because of Biden's policies, immigration enforcement agencies have reported record numbers of illegal immigrants attempting to cross the southern border. This fiscal year there have been more than 1.1 million migrants encountered by Border Patrol agents.

These migrants are trespassing on land owned by American ranchers to avoid detection by immigration and border enforcement, and Smith said that criminal activity on the border has left many Americans in border communities feeling unsafe, even during the day.

"If you don't have a gun with you, you're taking a chance," he said of ranchers walking on their own property. "And it's sad that that's the reality we live in today."

He added that criminal drug cartels "are in absolute control of both sides of the border right now."

According to Smith, no one is compensating the ranchers for damages inflicted on their property.

"If it's a stolen vehicle that goes through the property, their vehicle insurance isn't going to pay for it and ours won't either so the landowners are stuck with paying for this," Smith said.

He explained that ranchers are also liable to cover the costs when livestock escape from damaged fences and cause accidents on the road.

Some in Congress are working to correct the injustice. Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) on July 30 introduced bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives that would reimburse farmers and ranchers for costs incurred by vandalism of their property from the illegal immigration surge.

Pfluger's bill would redistribute $300 million in unspent COVID-19 rescue funds to pay farmers and ranchers for damages on their property related to migrant activity.

"Farmers and ranchers near the border are enduring livestock loss, crop loss, and damage to fences, physical structures, and more at the hands of trespassing coyotes and illegal migrants," Pfluger said on social media. "My bill, the #RAPIDAct, would reimburse farmers for these damages.

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