On May 15, 2024, Texas Public Policy Foundation’s James Quintero testified before the Senate committee on the issue of “squatter’s rights.” McCaw Property Management (n.d., para 1) defines a squatter as “somebody who is living on a land or in a building that is either unoccupied, abandoned, or foreclosed without the legal consent of the actual property owner.” Squatting poses a threat to property owners everywhere in the United States, transcending the generally partisan nature of policymaking. The process to remove a squatter is lengthy.  

Squatting is considered a civil matter, giving no immediate relief for tenants or property owners. During the hearing, James recalled many stories in which property rights have been undermined. In Bexar County, the Mendez family purchased a house in April 2024. The house needed repairs on the floor tile, requiring additional help. The worker they hired needed a place to stay for a few days, which was written in the labor contract. However, this individual chose to violate the contract and refused to leave, further leaving the Mendez home in a state of disrepair. It took weeks for the Mendez family to evict the squatter. Unfortunately, this is a nationwide phenomenon affecting many outside of Texas. 

Some illegal immigrants have capitalized on the issue of “squatter’s rights.” Venezuelan TikToker Leonel Moreno posted a video with detailed instructions of how to invade unoccupied homes in the United States, claiming to have friends that have “already taken several homes.” Individuals like Moreno undermine the fundamental value of property by exploiting and evading the law. These small-scale invasions bring current border policy into question. James recommended legislative measures like Florida’s House Bill 621, which provides “harsh and swift remedies against squatters.” The Committee expressed the urgent nature of this issue and will hopefully pursue measures that secure property rights, secure the Texas border, and deny lawlessness from legal protection in the next legislative session.