Border crossing deaths are an enormous problem that do not have an infrastructure to be prevented
Despite all of the political back and forth about immigrants crossing borders into America there is an undeniable fact that those who do it are in that position because of extreme hardship. Travelling in the dead of night through deserts and rivers is bad enough. The threat of being shot by border patrol officers or caught by dogs is worse.
Since 2013, the bodies of 145 unidentified immigrants have been exhumed at Sacred Heart cemetery. Buried in milk crates, many of them in groups of up to five, the burials of those who died on the border has lead to accusations of mishandling. These accusations prompted an investigation into border control policies but in 2014 Texas Rangers concluded there would need to be more evidence to open a criminal investigation. Almost three yeas since that investigation, with more bodies being found, it’s become increasingly hard to argue against the mishandling.
Many of the bodies are recovered in Brooks County, where border patrols in the area force immigrants to travel through difficult terrain to make the crossing. Inland patrols mean that even once you cross the border you may not be free to move through the US. This has seen many immigrants travel off-road. For land owners and residents in the area this means finding those who didn’t make it on their land.
Only four months into 2017, the number of people who have died crossing the border is equal to the entire year for 2010. The problem isn’t going anywhere. In an interview with the New York Times, Former Texas Governor Mark White Jr. spoke about his personal experience. In 2014 he found a body while out hunting near a Border Patrol checkpoint.
The first question that was asked of us was, ‘Is the body fresh?’ The lady who was answering the call said, ‘We can’t pick him up today because we have three fresh ones we have to pick up today.’
Many of those who die cannot be accurately processed. Brooks County doesn’t have a coroner so the deceased need to be sent 100 miles away to Laredo, Webb County. From October 2000 to Spetember 2016, 6,023 people have reportedly died crossing the border. That only accounts for those who have been found.
George Etheredge captured the pictures of the belongings of some of those who died. You can find the pictures below.