Representative Stephanie Bice (R-OK-05) introduced H.R. 6120 on Dec. 2, the Securing American Families from Exploitation at the Border Act, or SAFE Border Act.
This legislation would transfer $75 million of unobligated border construction funds that have gone unused by the Biden Administration to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish the Southern Border Landowner Security Grant Program. This grant program would enable American families living in high-risk areas of the U.S.- Mexico border to strengthen their own physical security against property damage, theft or other losses. The grant program would also provide modest compensation to landowners who have experienced property damage, theft, or other losses.
Joining Rep. Bice as original cosponsors on the bill are Reps. Brian Babin (TX -36), Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Jake Ellzey (TX-06), Pat Fallon (TX-04), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Kevin Hern (OK-01), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Frank Lucas (OK-03), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), August Pfluger (TX-11), and Randy Weber (TX-14).
“Earlier this year I visited the Del Rio Sector of the border and saw with my own eyes the damage illegal border crossings continue to cause in our southern border communities. Something must be done to protect American citizens who live on or near the border,” said Rep. Bice. “Since the Biden administration has chosen to halt construction of the wall, and refuses to effectively address the border crisis, Congress must find other ways to help people protect their property and this legislation will assist.”
The grant program would provide competitive grants to individuals based on their losses or their unmet security needs. In addition, applicants would be required to submit specific documentation to substantiate their claims to apply for the funds from FEMA.
“Illegal border crossings continue to be a major issue in the states that border Mexico. This legislation provides a pathway to help landowners who are at risk or who have already been impacted,” Bice said.
In addition to support from House members, Rep. Bice’s legislation has also received endorsements from the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, National Border Patrol Council, South Texans’ Property Rights Association, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Texas Farm Bureau, and Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association.
“Farm Bureau members in our neighboring southern border states have repeatedly asked for help with the serious issues related to trespassing, theft and damage they face when illegal migrants cross their property. Oklahoma Farm Bureau is thankful Congresswoman Bice is willing to defend private property rights with this commonsense plan that would offer much-needed assistance to impacted landowners,” said Rodd Moesel, president, Oklahoma Farm Bureau.
“Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) members continue suffering devastating losses due to the surge in illegal immigration,” said TFB President Russell Boening. “Many hardworking farm and ranch families have shared examples of property damage, vandalization, stolen equipment, security concerns and more. We appreciate Congresswoman Bice for visiting the Texas-Mexico border to learn about these issues and introducing the SAFE Border Act to help provide needed assistance to landowners impacted by the border crisis.”
“Today, on behalf of South Texans’ Property Rights Association and myself, I would like to thank Congresswoman Bice for introducing the SAFE Border Act. We look forward to working with her to protect the interests of the hard-working families of South Texas. She seems to be one of the few that are ready to put words into action,” said W.W. “Whit” Jones III, board chairman, South Texans Property Rights Association.
You can find the full text of the bill here.