BROOKS COUNTY, Texas — Texas landowners near the border with Mexico have been vocal for a while about the damages migration causes.
Broken fences, rammed gates and injury to livestock are common as migrants try to circumvent Border Patrol checkpoints and get north, several law enforcement officials along the border told KENS 5.
In July, Governor Greg Abbott urged Texas landowners to complete a self-reporting damage survey to help estimate the costs, KENS 5 obtained the results of the survey so far.
“It's really unbelievable,” said Susan Kibbe, Executive Director of South Texans Property Rights Association (STPRA). “The amount of damage especially in some areas just because of where these ranchers are, sustain hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.”
Kibbe told KENS 5, the association’s first landowner meeting was in 2005 to talk border security and immigration reform.
“It hasn't been resolved, hasn't been solved,” Kibbe told KENS 5. “And now there is no border security. So, you know, we're trying to get the word out and do the best we can to make a difference.”
So far, landowners and the counties have been paying the cost of migration.
“That's a federal issue,” Kibbe said. “That's been back and forth over the past decade.”
“These smugglers drive through fences,” she added, “ram gates, cut locks. Those fences are for a purpose that’s [to] separate cattle. So, when they do that, and go through multiple properties, then you have livestock exposed to sometimes public roads, mixed, where a whole year’s breeding season is diminished. It hits the pocketbook.”
Kibbe told KENS 5 the association didn’t have current estimates of landowner damages.
In July, Governor Abbott asked the landowners to help get that figure, and “inform the state’s ongoing efforts to secure the border,” as the press release stated.
Through a Public Information Request, KENS 5 obtained the results of the survey from July through November 2021.
The Excel spread sheets KENS 5 was provided, showed the state received 53 reports from owners and renters in multiple counties, including Maverick, Travis, Hidalgo counties, as well as Val Verde, Starr, Live Oak, Lavaca, Jackson and Webb.
Entries included information that some damaged structures were homes, some businesses. Some structures were uninhabitable, others, people were still able to occupy.
In a recent interview with KENS 5’s Niccole Caan, Abbott said the survey accomplishes several things.
“It provides us insight and information about the different ways that different communities have been harmed,” Abbott said. “We are aggregating all of those costs, and we're submitting those costs to Washington D.C. because the local communities had to bear those costs, but they shouldn't have to pay for them. It should be the federal government that pays for those costs.”
The survey results obtained by KENS 5 so far don’t show a complete picture of what landowners are dealing with. For example, it appears not everyone provided damage estimates when filling out their forms.
The individual reported estimated uninsured damages ranging from 3,000 to 100,000 dollars.
The estimates provide a window, though, into some of the daily challenges of border communities.
“This is just inhumane all the way around to all of us,” Kibbe told KENS 5. “To the migrants, to landowners, to the citizens of this nation. And so, we just need somebody to our federal government to step up to the plate and do the job.”
The border survey is still available for Texans to report damage related to border crisis.