South Texas shows increase in desperate illegal border crossings

 

The remains of 127 people were found by the end of 2012 (double the number of the preceding year) who had attempted to cross from Mexico to the United States through Brooks County. This was near the Falfurrias border checkpoint, which is about one hour in travel time from the international border. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Judge Raul Ramirez said that the south Texas jurisdiction no longer has enough burial spaces for unclaimed bodies at the Sacred Heart Cemetery. “When you have 127 people die in your county in one year, it is too much,” said the county judge. “One corpse would be enough.” 
 
The judge said that the cost of dealing with illegal immigration and the unidentified dead, including the costs for autopsies and burials, runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars. The rise in the number of deaths has come despite advances in attending to emergency calls for help in a vast expanse of land covered with scrub. There are also beacons in the scrubland where illegal immigrants and others can call for help from the Border Patrol. 
 
The Border Patrol has two check-points on the main highways heading north from the Rio Grande valley. Both are located in the midst of huge ranches where immigrants walk for days without sufficient water and food to elude U.S. law enforcement. According to the report, rancher Presnall Cage said that 17 corpses have been found on his 43,000 acre property in 2012. Cage said that this is a significant increase over previous years. "It's just been horrible," he said. "And there would have been a lot more deaths if the county didn't have a locator for 911 calls. Everyone has a cellphone,” said the rancher. "They are coming across as bad as they ever have. People say it's slowed down, but it doesn't seem that way to me." A local law enforcement officer averred that the number of illegal crossings has increased.
 
In December 2012, reporters embedded with the Border Patrol witnessed the arrest of a large number of immigrants who were walking through scrubland in Brooks County. Among them were eight women and three children under the age of 12, including an 11-year-old girl from Honduras who was traveling alone. Among them was Humberto Martinez, an 18-year-old from Guatemala who was travelling with his wife. They were attempting to reach their relatives in Kentucky. Each one had paid $6500 dollars to human traffickers who abandoned them in the desert. Martinez said that they had been walking for three days without food.
 
Arrests of immigrants from the Central American republics increased in 2012. The Border Patrol has not yet released an official number for past fiscal year. However, in the ten months prior to July 2012 there were 60 percent more arrests in the Rio Grande Valley sector as compared to the same period in 2011, according to the Border Patrol. 


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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