Local news reported that a team of forensic anthropologists & their students from Texas State University (TSU) exhumed unmarked mass graves of undocumented immigrants near Falfurrias, in Brooks County, Texas & found 30 bodies just in the last week.
Falfurrias is on the main highway 70 miles (115 km) north of the US-Mexican border. There is a three-lane border patrol checkpoint with canine units to sniff out immigrants being smuggled. To circumvent the checkpoint, “coyotes” (human smugglers) drop off vans of undocumented immigrants a few miles south of the checkpoint & drive north past the checkpoint to wait while the immigrants trek around border patrol through private ranch land. The detour of about 25 miles (40 km) takes a few days on foot in extreme subtropical heat & humidity (100℉ / 38 ℃) & arid terrain.
Since 2010, the border patrol in Brooks County have found the remains of over 461 immigrants who died, mostly from heat exhaustion. That is why Brooks County is called the “real Death Valley” & “one of the deadliest killing fields” for undocumented immigrants in the US.
The bodies were routinely handed over to a funeral corporation paid $1,000 per body. Rather than comply with state & national laws regarding the proper handling of bodies, the funeral corporation dumped them together without identification in trash bags, shopping bags, milk cartons, or no containers at all, often in shallow graves only 6 inches from the surface where animals could get at them. Sometimes only the skull is found. The burial grounds were like a landfill site.
When investigative reporters exposed the mass graves, the elite Texas Rangers “investigated” & found no wrongdoing on the part of authorities or the funeral corporation which had close association with then Texas governor Rick Perry. The investigative reporters have cited several state & national laws violated.
The university forensics teams are part of Operation Identification (OpID) started in 2013 as a collaboration between forensics investigators from TSU, Baylor University, & the University of Indianapolis (UI). They exhume unmarked graves, transport the bodies to TSU, & analyze the remains to identify & return them to their families in Mexico or Central America. Since 2013, 192 bodies have been exhumed–the youngest 14 years old & the oldest 60. So far 20 have been identified.
One of the investigative reporters asked two of the forensics professors why they launched OpID. Professor Krista Latham from UI said they were doing it for the families & because “everyone deserves to be mourned properly.” Professor Lori Baker from Baylor said “Would you want to see your son buried that way? Or your mom, or your sister, or your brother? This is not how you want someone you love to be buried.”
Photo is of exhumations in Falfurrias killing field January 2017.
Immigration is a human right. No human being is an alien. Open the borders.
(Photo from University of Indianapolis/Guy Housewright)