A Texas rancher who spends $20,000 a year repairing damage that illegal immigrants do to his land says his biggest fear is getting sued by illegal immigrants who may get hurt or killed trespassing on his private ranch.
Presnall Cage, a Brooks County rancher who has found numerous dead illegal immigrants on his ranch, told the Guardian that he and other landowners were angered by “a wrongful death lawsuit filed against a neighbor” in 2007 by the family of illegal immigrants.
“The biggest fear I have these days is litigation,” he said. “Whether it’s warranted or not.”
As the Guardian notes, “a security guard on the ranch stopped a carload of undocumented migrants being driven through the property to circumvent the checkpoint” in 2007. Soon after, “the vehicle fled and was pursued by the security guard. The chase ended in a rollover, and a Mexican couple and their seven-year-old daughter died.”
As the Houston Chronicle noted, the Texas Supreme Court decided the case last month, ruling that “landowners may not be liable to trespassers who are injured or killed on private property, so long as the property owners do not act overly aggressive toward the intruders.” The court, according to the Chronicle, threw out the wrongful death suit, agreeing with the landowners who said “they were not liable for the deaths because the immigrants entered the United States without permission and were still engaged in illegal activity when they were killed.”
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund was one of the groups that wrote a “friend of the court” brief, arguing that illegal immigrants should “be allowed to sue if injured on private property.”
Cage told the Guardian that he gave his wife a pistol to carry around on the ranch. She had never carried a gun around before but now must for her safety.
Illegal immigrants have done considerable harm to his private property. For instance, his fence “wire is bent upward and the sand dug away where people have crawled underneath.” They have dropped 250 pounds of marijuana on his land in a smuggling operation. He reportedly has “had the flotation devices that trigger the water pumps for his cattle troughs ripped out by people looking for water, and sometimes migrants leave the gates open and cattle get lost.” He has to pay cowboys to clean up the “hundreds of pounds of litter left behind every year on his ranch.”
“I’d say I spend about $20,000 a year repairing the damage that’s been done,” Cage told the Guardian. “At least they didn’t cut the wire this time.”
Though he is strictly against illegal immigration, Cage has helped illegal immigrants who have been in labor. After “he first started finding bodies more than a decade ago, he installed faucets along his water lines, marked with bright blue railroad ties so they can be spotted from a distance.”
He says his “neighbors are absentee landowners – hedge fund managers or oil and gas millionaires who live in Houston or California.” All he wants is just a “return to the days when people didn’t routinely venture across his land” so he and his wife can live on their private property in peace.