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Texas Matters: The Dead In The Desert

Texas State University student in the forensic anthropology program clears soil from the remains of an unidentified migrant in Brooks County.
David Martin Davies | Texas Public Radio
Texas State University student in the forensic anthropology program clears soil from the remains of an unidentified migrant in Brooks County.

Brooks County is just under 1,000 square miles. It’s almost entirely dry, barren and rugged. Some call it the Texas Death Valley, but it’s not a valley. However, there certainly is death in this South Texas county. 

Brooks County is the big barrier for people who are in the country illegally and are trying to get into the interior and into big cities where they can melt into the population. Migrants from Mexico and Central America are so desperate to come to the United States and work that they are willing to risk death. And they are well aware of the risks.

There are rescue efforts by the border patrol, the Brooks County Sheriff’s department and volunteers – who are also operating at great risk and expense. But that is not enough.

The questions that come from the tragic situation in Brooks County are: Is it right that the United States has a public policy that takes so many lives? What can be done to prevent this humanitarian crisis from continuing?

The obvious fix is to have a functioning immigration system that allows people who want to come into the United States for economic opportunity to do so legally. 

Border Protection is important, but are there steps that can be taken to continue having a secure southern border – without allowing so many people to die of heat stroke and dehydration? Also, it's worth noting these national public policies have been in place for over 30 years.

Presidents from both parties have embraced and continued using death in the desert as a deterrent to illegal immigration. But under President Donald Trump overall – using death, imprisonment, and family separation as a border security policy and a political opportunity – has been taken to a new level. 

David Martin Davies can be reached at DMDavies@TPR.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi