Mass illegal immigrant graves have been found in South Texas by anthropologists. At least 162 bodies have already been exhumed for examination with scores more left to uncover.
The mass graves were found at Sacred Hearts Burial Parks in Falfurrias, Texas, 80 miles from the state’s southern border with Mexico. According to ABC36, a funeral home in southern Texas, Funeraria del Angel Howard-Williams, is paid by Brooks County to bury the remains of illegal immigrants who die crossing the border. The county has paid the funeral home for at least 16 years to deal with the remains of immigrants who die as they cross on foot in the desert-like conditions. The funeral home charges $450 per body for burial. However, the mass graves are concerning to Texas Senator Juan Hinojosa (D-Texas) due to the nature of how the bodies were apparently handled. Hinojosa said:
These people deserve a proper investigation and a proper burial.
According to The Caller Times, the mass graves held body bags containing more than one body, corpses buried in shopping bags, trash bags or with no bags at all. Other remains were missing limbs. Skulls were also found in biohazard bags placed between coffins. Anthropologist Krista Latham says:
To me it’s just as shocking as the mass grave that you would picture in your head, and it’s just as disrespectful.
One sad and ironic example of disregard for proper burial is the discovery of a kitchen garbage bag containing bones that were tucked inside a gift bag emblazoned with a logo featuring the word “Dignity”. It is hard to find the dignity in this type of burial for any person.
The researchers and their students exhumed remains of 110 unidentified people from the cemetery in 2013 alone. This summer they performed 52 exhumations, but more than 52 people were buried in those spaces due to the conditions of multiple burials per site. Not all of the body bags were opened on-site so the group is still determining how many bodies they have exhumed to date.
The anthropology group who discovered the mass immigrant graves are with the University of Indianapolis. The group intended to exhume graves in hopes of identifying as many of the immigrants as possible. They hoped to identify migrants who have died of exposure while evading Border Patrol checkpoints in remote South Texas, giving them names again.
Sadly, hundreds of immigrants die each year in Brooks County attempting to migrate to the United States. With very little water and shade in the area, heat-related death is common.
Since October, the nation has struggled to house and process record numbers of minors fleeing civil and political unrest in Central America, so illegal immigrants are also being handled and processed at the Rio Grande border in a more than questionable manner. Illegal immigrants are being dropped by the hundreds at bus stops across the United States including one stop in Phoenix, Arizona, that has been home to over 400 immigrants. These immigrants are dropped with nothing more than the clothes on their back and a citation to report back in 14 days for a hearing.
The mass graves are just another example that U.S. immigration systems and policies are being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of migrants trying to cross the border. They are having difficulty coping with the humanitarian aspects of illegal migration, but groups such as these anthropologists are hoping to at least bring some dignity back to these individuals by giving them proper burials.
[Image Credit: Caller Times]