Congressmen Henry Cuellar (D-TX28) and House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX10) have requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a review of federal government efforts to identify and address property damage to private lands and infrastructure that occurs along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On June 19, 2013, Congressman Cuellar and Chairman McCaul sent a letter to Comptroller General of the United States, Gene L. Dodaro, to ask GAO to assess property damage along the southern border and focus on what efforts are being made by the federal government to provide compensation to landowners, if any.
"We've been working with federal, state, local law enforcement officials and border communities to address these issues, in finding ways to compensate private landowners for damages caused by undocumented border crossers or federal agencies conducting border enforcement operations," said Congressman Cuellar. "I thank my colleague, Chairman McCaul and Ms. Susan Durham, Executive Director of the South Texans' Property Rights Association (STPRA) in joining me in these efforts".
"Beyond the national security threat that stems from not having a secure border is the financial toll it continues to take on private property owners," said Chairman McCaul. "It is important to understand the full scope of this destruction and ensure our property owners are not single-handedly bearing this cost associated with the federal government's failure to secure our borders."
Susan Durham, Executive Director of South Texans' Property Rights Association (STPRA), expressed her gratitude to both members taking the responsibility on addressing the issue:
"STPRA applauds the efforts of Congressmen Cuellar and McCaul to address the plight of the private landowner in South Texas and along the U.S.-Mexico border with a GAO request to review the federal government's efforts to identify and address property damage to private lands and infrastructure. Our members believe it is the federal government's responsibility to address this issue, since border security is the federal government's duty and obligation."
STPRA has been working since 2006 with public and government officials to protect the rights of property owners in South Texas.