South Texas ranchers seek compensation for property damages amid border crisis
LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - As the border crisis continues to unfold in South Texas, numerous ranch owners find themselves grappling with property damages caused by migrants seeking refuge. The situation has prompted legislative action, with Texas Governor Gregg Abbott signing a comprehensive package of border security legislation earlier this year, including Senate Bill 1133.
For those traversing Interstate 83 North for 92 miles, the town of Crystal City, Texas emerges, with a population exceeding 6,000 residents. Despite its size, the town remains plagued by criminal activities stemming from an influx of border crossings in nearby Eagle Pass, Texas.
Raymond, hailing from Laredo, owns a ranch in Crystal City. He shared his experiences, noting an increase in migrant traffic through his property. He detailed instances where fences were cut, vehicles plowed through, and the subsequent escape of farm animals. Raymond estimated losses at around $40,000 worth of livestock annually.
The family’s security camera images revealed individuals walking through the ranch, some claiming they were on their way to larger U.S. cities. However, others faced tragic fates, with ranchers discovering deceased migrants on their properties. The damages extended beyond property destruction, encompassing ruined homes and vandalized structures.
Ranchers in the region attribute the Nueces River’s proximity as a facilitating factor for migrants seeking access to water. They report migrants congregating near pick areas such as rest stops or beneath bridges before continuing their journeys.
Governor Abbott’s Senate Bill 1133 aims to provide compensation for damages caused by criminal trespassing, offering ranchers financial relief of up to $75,000. Sgt. Rene Cordova of the Texas Department of Public Safety for the Del Rio District emphasized the state’s efforts to assist affected landowners, urging them to apply for grants to recover damages incurred during the ongoing crisis.
The Landowner Compensation Program, created by Senate Bill 1133, offers relief for ranchers who have suffered real property damage due to border crime. The application process, still in development, requires documentation such as a police report, proof of property damage, and evidence of repairs.
The 88th Legislative Session enacted Senate Bill 1133 creating the Landowner Compensation Program, which became effective on September 1, 2023.
The Office of the Attorney General is currently working on the implementation of SB 1133. The application process for the Landowner Compensation Program is being finalized, as are the administrative rules that will outline specifics of the program.
If you suffered real property damage on agricultural land due to a border crime and feel that you may qualify for this compensation program, the following are some of the documents that you will need to have:
Obtain a police report of the incident/crime;
Maintain any and all documentation of proof that property damage was sustained; and
Maintain any and all proof of repairs (if made).
More information is forthcoming on the steps and processes for filing a claim for compensation.
If you have any question or concerns, please contact the OAG office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We anticipate that rules will be proposed in the coming weeks. Please check back for updates. We welcome your comments during the public comment period!
As ranchers like Raymond seek respite from recurring repairs, the hope is that increased vigilance and patrolling in the area will discourage trespassing, allowing them a more peaceful time on their properties.
For more information on the Landowner Compensation Program, individuals can contact the Office of the Attorney General at email@example.com.
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