The Conversation

Texas Rancher Highlights Collateral Damage of Current Border Crisis

Dr. Michael Vickers is a veterinarian and rancher who lives about 70 miles from the southern border in Falfurrias, Texas. Vickers is also the co-founder of Texas Border Volunteers, a group which monitors private land for illegal immigrants and notifies the border patrol when they encounter them. Unfortunately, not everyone Vickers and his group locates is still alive.

This week Vickers shared images of some of the many dead bodies his group has come across on private land. The photos of immigrants who apparently got lost without enough water are very graphic, so much so that the Daily Mail chose to blur them out. Vickers says his group had located 259 bodies in Brooks County since 2012.

Vickers' gruesome discoveries shed light on the ongoing collateral damage the current immigration situation creates. Smugglers and gangs are paid thousands of dollars to bring people across but in many instances the smugglers abandon people without enough water or any sense of where they are. There have also been numerous cases of women immigrants being raped by the "coyotes" paid to deliver them.

"Three of the last ones who have died on my ranch have been women. We found a dead 12-year-old boy on my neighbor's property," Vickers told the Daily Mail this week.

Vickers patrols have helped save the lives of some immigrants who were lost and out of water. "We've rescued some small children, quite a few," Vickers told the Mail. He described an 11-year-old found "8 or 9 miles" from the highway. Vickers' group contacted the Border Patrol and he was picked up and given water.

A video interview with Dr. Vickers has been posted on You Tube. In the interview he displays blown up photos (he uses the oversized photos to give talks about the border situation) of some of the people, both living and dead, he has found on private land. Note that the photos in the video clip are not blurred and are extremely graphic.

The recent surge in child migrants, most of them from Central America, has brought renewed attention to the border. Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children have reached the border this year. That's more than double the number who arrived last year. President Obama referred to the situation as a "urgent humanitarian situation."

In some cases the children are hoping to reunite with relatives who have previously traveled to the United States.Under current law, children arriving from countries other than Mexico are turned over to HHS for care until they can have a hearing with an immigration judge. Because the system is overloaded those hearings are often weeks or months later.


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