Crossing our southwest border from Mexico into the US is no easy task. It is also all to often a deadly proposition; if your coyote (human smuggler) doesn’t kill you or leave you for dead, the brutal desert environment will. As the number of illegal immigrant bodies discovered in Texas has grown, so has the concern of civic groups who want to help prevent these deaths.
Reporter Jen Reel of The Texas Observer has started a crowdfunding campaign called “I Have A Name” that aims to more effectively identify the bodies of immigrants who have gone missing during the trip north and perished after crossing into Texas. Although forensic examiners in Texas who try to identify these bodies are highly skilled, there sometimes isn’t enough data or material to positively identify someone. The ‘I Have A Name’ project aims to assist with this identification process.
“Our goal is to provide an additional means of identification. Working with Dr. [Lori] Baker’s team at Baylor, we plan to build a searchable visual database of images of personal belongings (a wedding band, a rosary, a dress, for example) and forensic information from each case their lab handles to assist family members, government officials and activists searching for missing individuals.”
The crowdfunding site for the project explains that donations go towards photographing and documenting images of the personal belongings found on the immigrants’ bodies and creating a keyword searchable visual database in Spanish and English providing comprehensive instruction on the steps to take if a potential identification is made.
It is often difficult for illegal immigrants to communicate with their families back home while they are en route to the US. Sometimes families go weeks without hearing from their loved ones and never know if they made it safely to the US or perished somewhere along the way. This project aims to provide some closure to those families in a grave state of uncertainty.
Breitbart Texas has reported extensively on the plight of illegal immigrants who are left to die by human smugglers in Brooks County. The Brooks County Sheriff’s Office is often left holding the bag on the financial burden of identifying and burying these bodies. Since 2009, the remains of nearly five hundred illegal immigrants have been found in the fields of ranches in Brooks County, according to Chief Deputy Benny Martinez.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.