Researchers in South Texas working to exhume the bodies of migrants who died trying to cross the border have uncovered a series of mass graves and human remains buried in shocking conditions.
"In biohazard bags, in garbage bags, we found one in a shopping bag that was from the funeral home." (Via Al Jazeera)
Researchers and students from the University of Indianapolis and Baylor University have been digging up the remains of illegal immigrants buried in Brooks County, Texas, in order to identify the bodies and send them home to their families. (Via YouTube / ryanmatthewstrand)
The plot was meant to contain 52 bodies, but the teams found multiple cases where the remains of several people had been buried in the same grave. Some of the remains were buried in trash bags, body bags, shopping bags, or even without any container. (Via KGBT)
Brooks County has seen a sharp increase in immigrant deaths over the past few years, as migrants try to evade a border checkpoint by crossing harsh terrain in brutal heat — often without adequate water or shade.
"We've had hundreds of people die in the wilderness in Brooks County over the last several years. ... The local sheriff's office is tasked with recovering the dead and disposing of the remains, and they've become completely overwhelmed by the problem."
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports the sheriff's office typically sends migrant's bodies to a local funeral home, which charges $450 for each burial.
County officials say they've been paying the funeral home to handle migrant bodies for at least 16 years. Researchers believe the remains they exhumed were buried by the funeral home between 2005 and 2012.
Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker, who helped lead the excavation, told the Los Angeles Times Brooks County officials don't have the resources to properly deal with the remains of deceased migrants.
"They're so overworked. ... Trying to keep people alive who are in distress is the county’s No. 1 priority, so they haven’t been able to make the remains one."
On Wednesday Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced an additional $1.3 million per week in funding had been approved for the state's Department of Public Safety in order to address the rising influx of immigrants.