EAGLE PASS, Texas — A Texas rancher provided video he took showing mounds of trash and discarded clothing left on his land from migrants traveling on foot. The video was taken as the rancher conducted a game survey. The rancher says the litter problem grows daily as migrants cross through his property to meet smugglers on a nearby highway.
The rancher says most of each day’s labor is spent repairing fences and water systems servicing animal life. Little time is left for typical operations and improvements. He says migrants often break water pipes connected to livestock tanks—exposing animal life to deadly dehydration. Damaged fences can result in cattle wandering onto the bordering highway and case vehicular accidents. In those cases, the ranch would be held liable.
The owner has ceased running conventional livestock on the property due to fencing damage and is left to operate as a hunting ranch. Even then, the ranch could be forced to pay damages if a hunter accidentally shoots a camouflaged migrant.
The rancher has no options available to seek reimbursement for damages sustained to his property. In September, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting a federal disaster declaration to secure such funds.
The request received bi-partisan support from a state legislator in Maverick County in recent weeks. Despite the support of local elected officials, the request was denied by FEMA. A subsequent appeal was denied on October 24.
For now, the rancher says he will continue to do what he can to keep the ranch in business.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.