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On Fronteras: From How Science Might Help In Migrant Identification To Latino Urban Farms

Lorne Matalon
Marfa Public Radio
Kate Spradley in her lab in San Marcos, Texas. She holds a box containing the remains of a Salvadoran man who she helped identify years after the man had died after entering the U.S. and attempting to evade a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.

    This week on Fronteras:

--The science of determining the time of death is helping identify migrants who walked around a border checkpoint but died on their journey.  

-- An update on identifying the comatose man in California known as 66 Garage. More families want to know if he could be their missing relative and science might help him communicate.  

-- On a New Mexico mesa, emergency services are needed, but scarce.  But should people be living there?

-- The number of Texas family farms is declining but Latino teens are learning how to farm in the city.

-- Students get lessons in gardening and going green at a suburban Dallas school.

Time Of Death Key To Identifying Migrants

Brooks County, Texas — 70 miles north of the U.S. Mexico border — has seen at least 365 migrant deaths since 2011.  Many of those who died did not carry  identification and solving the mystery of who they were takes extensive forensic work.

Forensic anthropologists in Texas and Arizona are working to identify some of these migrants.  They say determining when a person died is crucial to figuring out who he or she might have been.  In the first of a two-part series, Fronteras reporter Lorne Matalon of Marfa Public Radio reports on how the researchers study the science of human decomposition, to help establish time of death.


Update: Science May Help Comatose Man Communicate  

California authorities, too, are trying to identify a man believed to be an immigrant, but in this case, the man is alive.  In March, we told you about the person known as 66 Garage, who has been on life support for 15 years in a Coronado nursing home.  At least a dozen families have come forward to claim him since reporter Joanne Faryon of KPBS made his story public.  Today, Joanne brings us the latest on 66 Garage and the possibility that science may allow him to finally communicate. 


Emergency Services Scarce On Rural Mesa

Now to New Mexico, where people are building dwellings and living on a huge stretch of mesa southwest of Albuquerque. These homesteaders on Pajarito Mesa say when they call for emergency services, help isn’t always on its way.   

There are questions about the legality of land-ownership or even whether people should be living in this remote area. Some county officials here say they don’t want to encourage anyone to move there by providing services. KUNM’s Marisa Demarco has the story for Fronteras. 



Latino Teens Farm In the City

The Lone Star state is converting more family farm land into urban space than any other state in the country, according to researchers at Texas A&M University. But even though family farms are disappearing, small-scale agriculture is thriving in some immigrant communities in North Texas. KERA’s Dianna Douglas visited some Latino students who are farming in the city.



Kids Learn Eco-Friendly Gardening

In the past decade, it seems like every school has a garden. Educators say the benefits range from kids learning about healthier food to improving their social and emotional health. KERA’s Stella Chavez visited a Grand Prairie, Texas, elementary school, that’s going way beyond the traditional school garden.


Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules