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Addressing damage claims after immigrant pursuits
As South Texas landowners continue to suffer property damage and safety threats due to the ongoing border crisis, Frio County Sheriff Mike Morse will host a public forum to discuss program ideas and policies he hopes will bring some relief.
The forum is slated for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 16, in the Frio County Community Room.
“We continue to see a steady increase in incidents of bailouts into private ranches, which are damaging fences and other property,” Frio County Chief Deputy Peter Salinas said in an interview Monday morning. “We do understand that this is costly and we do have some program ideas.”
The chief deputy said the department plans to provide “the best possible service to the land owners that have been negatively impacted.” Salinas added that he learned in a recent conference that there are means by which landowners may be given damage information in a more timely manner.
The sheriff’s office has been working with county commissioners to develop a policy that would allow a portion of monies raised from abandoned vehicle auctions to be used for reimbursement to landowners.
Salinas said that if the policy is approved the vehicle would have to be involved in an incident specific to the landowner requesting reimbursement and meet eligibility requirements. Currently, a vehicle that has been impounded by the sheriff’s office is towed to the impound lot and held until claimed. Vehicles unclaimed within 20 days are auctioned to the public.
“The most common scenario right now is a vehicle being on our lot for four or five days and then claimed,” the chief deputy said.
Salinas said he sympathizes with landowners but is also aware of budget constraints, inflation and the surge in fuel prices.
“We cannot depend on that [abandoned vehicle] fund to provide reimbursements,” the chief deputy said. “We use that fund for daily operational costs. Also, look at fuel. We budgeted $100,000, I have already had to pull money from other areas for fuel.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) launched a financial assistance program in February that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers along the southern border.
The deadline for funding applications is Tuesday, July 5.