In a hearing about potential border security measures and grants for South Texans facing immense property damage, Democrat State Rep. Rafael Anchia proposed ranchers pay for the litigation costs of suing illegal aliens for damages.
“Let’s just say that their response to Anchia would require quite a few redactions of words,” Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith told Texas Scorecard.
In the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, lawmakers considered several border security measures. One, House Bill 7 by State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R–Rio Grande City), would administer and finance support programs for the southern border region, including property damage compensation as well as additional funding for the judiciary and law enforcement stretched thin by the border crisis.
Smith testified before the committee, raising concerns that the grants didn’t include damages caused by smugglers driving through ranch fences. “A lot of times, they drive through fences, kill cattle [and] livestock, and things of that nature.”
“Rather than the state creating a fund to reimburse people, there would just be a cause of action in tort like any other property damage,” suggested Anchia.
“It might also require the landowners to hire lawyers and pay litigation costs,” explained Smith.
“Well, that’s what I would have to do if someone damages my property, regardless of who they are,” said Anchia, who lives in Dallas.
“I think there’s a misconception that when people say damaged property, it’s not like … you have your car backed into or something,” explained Smith. “You go to the body shop and get that fixed. [It] happens once a year. The ranchers on the border are having that happen every month, every week. There’s ranchers that have fixed their fence over 50 times. That’s unsustainable financially, and it’s by no fault of their own.”
Although Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security push—Operation Lone Star—has seen some success along the border in capturing illegal drugs, apprehending criminals, and prosecuting illegal border-crossers for criminal trespassing, it has failed to turn the tide of the invasion.
As lawmakers consider additional actions, Smith says, “It was disappointing that Representative Anchia’s remarks during committee testimony were focused on inept ‘gotcha questions’ and attempts to create political division.”
“People from all across the state traveled to Austin to find a solution to the border crisis, not play political games,” said Smith. “It was quickly evident to me that he had no concept of what conditions are like on the ground at the border and was not interested in creating a solution that protects Texans.”
Smith told Texas Scorecard the ranchers he spoke to were insulted by Anchia’s attitude toward their lives and livelihoods, saying it “did not go over well with the ranchers I spoke with.”