By Morgan Luttrell
U.S. Representative,Texas District 8
Every day, the lives and livelihoods of people across this country are severely affected by the millions of illegal immigrants flooding into the United States.
As revealed in the House Committee on Homeland Security’s investigation into the costs, causes, and consequences of the border crisis, this is especially true for those who make their living and feed their families on the front lines of this chaos.
America’s farmers and ranchers along the southwestern border face the harsh reality of President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s border crisis every day as they are forced to bear the cost of the damage caused by illegal immigrants who trespass on their property attempting to evade apprehension by Border Patrol.
The South Texans’ Property Rights Association, which represents 500 South Texas ranchers, said that although illegal immigrants trespassing on their properties has always been a problem, it is getting exponentially worse under this administration.
This border crisis is costing farmers and ranchers a fortune, as illegal immigrants leave property damage, piles of trash, and damaged crops in their wake. These people must often spend their hard-earned money to secure their farms and ranches from the devastating consequences of Biden’s border crisis.
For many ranchers, facing the cost of repairing damaged fences is a weekly occurrence. This means that if a damaged fence is not caught in time, livestock can escape, leading to additional costs. For example, ranchers can lose up to $6,000 for a middle-aged cow, $3,000 for a bull, and $700 for a calf.
Illegal immigrants are also damaging water lines along the border, with one rancher noting he lost 130,000 gallons of fresh water. In an area where water is not always easy to come by, there is no way to truly quantify the lasting effects of this loss. Rancher John Sewell of Uvalde said just fixing the damage caused by the trespassers is in and of itself “a full-time job.”
In these situations, the damage is not just limited to equipment and homes. A rancher in Maverick County, Texas, said he had rocks thrown at him by trespassers, and they even beat his dogs with sticks.
Unfortunately, these examples of threats, harassment, and assault are becoming all too frequent, leading many ranchers to take extra precautions to protect their property, livestock, and families.
In March 2023, a South Texas rancher, Debbie Douglas, told NewsNation she has had to spend over $13,000 on new security equipment to address the constant trespassing on her property by illegal immigrants. This is money that farmers and ranchers could put toward other investments, rather than security measures caused by the border crisis.
Simply put, in an industry like agriculture, in which the margin of profit is already small, the Biden and Mayorkas border crisis is only adding insult to injury. These unexpected costs can lead to ranchers losing their property.
Under this administration, encounters at the southwestern border reached an all-time high in fiscal 2023, with almost 2.5 million encounters. This is the stark reality at our southwestern border, yet Biden and Mayorkas continue to stand firm on the same policies that put ranchers and farmers in this position.
Whether Mayorkas’s failure to secure the border is due to sheer incompetence or intentional subversion of the laws passed by Congress, the people have spoken, repeatedly.
Mayorkas and Biden must respond. We cannot ignore this problem any longer. America’s farmers and ranchers are the bedrock of our economy. We cannot allow them to continue to pay the price for this preventable crisis.