Seventy miles from the Mexican border in dirt-poor Brooks County, Texas, the human remains of hundreds of asylum seekers, mostly from Central America and Mexico, were uncovered in 2014 in a mass grave. Hundreds more are believed elsewhere in South Texas.
Desperate people died while escaping police violence, civil war, all-powerful street gangs, and take-no-prisoners drug cartels in their home countries. They were seeking asylum.
There is no federal funding to identify and bury migrants. The county paid a funeral home $450 per body, and they were put in trash bags, biohazard bags, or nothing and dumped in unmarked graves. They died from poisonous snake bites, dehydration or triple digit temperatures, while avoiding Border Patrol checkpoints. If they called 911 for rescue, there was little response.
One Salvadoran man was promised help but no one showed up for 11 hours. By then his younger brother, an artist, had died and he, marked for death back home, was deported.
A Texas Rangers investigation found “no criminal wrongdoing.” Yet investigative journalist John Carlos Frey uncovered over a dozen violations of Texas and national laws. Texas also routinely violates the 14th amendment by denying birth certificates to children born to undocumented women.
Bringing some small remedy for this horrendous — and ongoing — crime, forensic anthropologists from the University of Indianapolis and Baylor University are exhuming, identifying, and reburying these victims.
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