FALFURRIAS, Texas, (UPI) — A rural South Texas county says it has seen a steep rise this year in the number of both deaths and rescues of people crossing the border illegally.
The increase comes even as migration from Mexico had dropped to record lows nationwide, NBC News reported Tuesday.
Brooks County; 70 miles from the Mexican border and near the tip of the “boot,” is a prime spot for crossers because of its low population and vast stretches of ranch lands. Officials there say this year 104 remains of people believed to have been undocumented immigrants have been found. That’s more than double last year’s count.
It’s a costly problem for the country’s 7,500 residents. It has no coroner, so the bodies must be sent to neighboring Hidalgo County. County officials say it costs about $1,500 for each body to be autopsied.
Officials in Hidalgo County make efforts to identify the remains, but chances of doing so are small. The desert conditions destroy corpses and animals scatter the bones. Neither county can afford DNA testing that might help identify the dead, many of whom are buried in paupers’ graves, identified only by a number, NBC said.
Some in Brooks County are working to end the often tragic consequences facing crossers. At least once a month, a group of volunteers patrol private ranch lands, carrying water, food, cameras and GPS devices, looking for anyone who needs to be rescued, or for those beyond rescue.
They also carry guns should they encounter coyotes, gang members or drug smugglers.
Whoever they find, they contact the Border Patrol.