You hear about mass graves with unidentified bodies strewn together being found during genocides and holocausts, in places like Rwanda, Serbia, or Iraq. But guess what? There are mass graves right here in Texas.
It was last year when the mass graves with hundreds of dead bodies were first discovered, but more mass graves are being found in Texas. At first, it was anthropologists who came upon a pit filled with dead human bodies in plastic trash bags. Investigations began as to who the dead people were and why were buried in this way. There was absolutely nothing to indicate their identities. The most rational thing investigators could come up with was that they were immigrants who had tried to cross the border from Mexico. Most, they assumed, were either Mexican or Central American.
It turns out that this practice of creating unmarked mass graves for the people who die trying to cross the border has been taking place regularly since 2012. Texas’ border patrol, operated by the Department of Public Safety, have been the ones doing the burying and they insist they are not breaking any laws. And it turns out, the law doesn’t exactly prohibit the practice, despite the controversy this situation is stirring around the country and in the media, especially with a very angry Amy Goodman on the show Democracy Now!
Despite there being no legal recourse to burying the dead this way, a documentary has been made about this horrifying find by The Weather Channel in partnership with Telemundo and The Investigating Fund. The documentary seeks to answer questions that can’t be posed to Texas authorities on a legal level.
The truth that was uncovered in the documentary was that the bodies were gathered from the desert surrounding a checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, in Brooks County.The report also found many of the people died after crossing into the United States and waiting hours for Border Patrol to respond to their 911 calls.
For years, the previous sheriff in Falfurrias would give the bodies to a funeral home. They charged taxpayers over a thousand dollars per body but then buried them, anonymously, in a corner of the cemetery and even in between coffins.
Investigative Reporter John Carlos Frey has a list of laws Texas authorities have broken:
“County coroners are supposed to take DNA evidence and submit that to our missing persons and unidentified database. Individuals are supposed to have any sort of identification in the actual container where the individual is buried. The cemetery is supposed to have a plot plan. If you’re looking for the remains of a particular individual, you’re supposed to be able to find exactly where they’ve been buried.”
That’s not the case with these mass graves, which are no more than a hole filled with dead bodies. As for the anonymity of the dead, some information about these hundreds who don’t make it across the border have been found, again, by John Carlos Frey:
“Most of the people coming to this region here are asylum seekers. They’re fleeing horrible violence and economic depression in their own countries, mostly from Central America. And they’re coming to the United States to present themselves—to seek asylum, which is perfectly legal in the United States.”
Below is a video of the initial find by anthropologists in 2014: