Last week in Brooks County, Texas, anthropologists discovered a mass grave of unidentified migrants across 52 plots in a local cemetery. The remains were in disarray–three bodies in one body bag, five buried in another, some bodies even buried in plastic bags. Bones were scattered in such a way that’s difficult to tell exactly how many bodies were uncovered.
Brooks County, not far from the Mexican border, is mostly desert farmland, with few people and even fewer resources for traveling migrants. Heat, lack of water, and ultimately exhaustion are mostly responsible for deaths in the region. Whether these migrant deaths are a result of the challenging elements remains to be seen, though it is likely.
However, there are bigger unanswered questions like why these bodies were buried so improperly. To help make sense of this gruesome scene, Maria talks to KJZZ reporter Mónica Ortiz Uribe who has reported on the region.
Brooks County Sheriff’s Deputy Moe Saavdra looks over a destroyed and discarded cell phone while searching for undocumented immigrants on May 23, 2013 near Falfurrias, Texas. Groups of immigrants walk as much as 30 miles north through the brush to circumvent a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint located in Brooks County. During the journey, they often discard soiled clothing, changing into a fresh set brought in backpacks. Last year at least 129 immigrants died, mostly of heat exhaustion, in Brooks County alone while making the trek. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Mónica Ortiz Uribe is a native of El Paso, Texas, where she recently worked as a freelance reporter. Her work has aired on NPR, Public Radio International and Radio Bilingue. Most of her stories examined the effects of drug-related violence across the border in CiudadJuárez, Mexico. Previously, she worked as a reporter for the Waco Tribune Herald in Waco, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in history.
Michael Simon Johnson is a Pittsburgh native who spent most of his childhood making music and groaning when his parents put on NPR in the car. So naturally he graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Sound Design, moved to New York and made his way into public radio. As an engineer, he has worked for Afropop Worldwide, WNYC’s Radio Rookies, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He commits much of his time to working on radio and multimedia projects but can often be found playing the bass, rock climbing, and traveling.