Oklahoma Congresswoman Stephanie Bice, concerned with the high number of migrant encounters on the southwest border since President Biden took office, introduced legislation this week to try and provide financial support to border region residents negatively impacted by the illegal crossings.
The SAFE (Securing American Families from Exploitation) Border Act would reimburse those who live along the border for up to $25,000 in property damage, theft or other losses caused by illegal border crossings, which soared in FY 2021 to 1.66 million, the highest number ever recorded, according to the Pew Research Center.
Rep. Bice (R-OK5) visited the Del Rio sector of the border in early October and said she saw with her own eyes the damage the surge in migrant crossings is causing to border communities and their residents.
"So, what we are doing is creating a grant program for these individuals to be able to apply for money to be reimbursed for things like cutting fence lines, stealing of livestock, stealing of all sorts of personal property," said Rep. Bice in an interview Wednesday, "because this is a really big problem for them."
The grants would be funded, Bice says, by repurposing $75 million in FEMA funds that had been allocated for border wall construction, but which are currently unobligated.
Bice says there are instances of property owners being victimized multiple times
“If they’re filing with insurance, they’re having to pay the deductible and at some point, you have the threat of having your insurance canceled,” said Bice. “So we feel like this is an opportunity for them to be able to apply for the grant, haven’t reviewed it, and then be reimbursed for the personal losses.”
The grants would be capped at $25,000.
Joining her as original co-sponsors of the bill are eight House members from Texas and three from Oklahoma: Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK3), Rep, Kevin Hern (R-OK1), and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2).