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By Manny Fernandez in Falfurrias, Tex.
Last week, President Trump told reporters during his visit to San Antonio that he was shocked to learn that migrants were dying in the South Texas brush after crossing the border illegally.
“I had no idea,” Mr. Trump said. “Nobody has any idea how bad this is.” He added, “Many, many are dying. That was what surprised me.”
The president spoke at a private club last Wednesday at 12:56 p.m. At that very moment, 186 miles to the south, Deputy Bianca Mora with the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office was driving a patrol truck on a caliche road. She was responding to a report of a migrant body on a ranch. It was her second body of the day.
“I don’t know how to explain it but you get used to it,” said Deputy Mora, 25. “I went to one last year and I didn’t have enough body bags. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of bodies that we found. I went initially for one. We picked up three.”
Brooks County is deep in South Texas brush country: an immense swath of ranchlands thick with thorny shrubs, cactus and mesquite and oak trees. The county seat, Falfurrias, has a population of 4,981. One ranch alone is 8,600 acres — more than 10 times the size of Central Park. Brooks County is far north of the border — about an hour’s drive — but it is home to a busy Border Patrol traffic checkpoint.
[Read more about those checkpoints here.]
Migrants, led by smugglers known as coyotes, try to hike around the checkpoint. Ill-prepared for the days-long journey in the harsh brush, sometimes without adequate water or food, hundreds of migrants have died on the private ranches in Brooks County in recent years, making it one of the deadliest places on America’s southwest border.
Since January 2009, the bodies or skeletal remains of 642 migrants have been discovered in Brooks County. They die from the cold in the winter and die from the heat in the summer. They die of dehydration, heat stroke, hypothermia. They die alone. Sometimes they die together, like the five migrants whose bodies were found under a tree during a freeze one winter. Eight bodies have been found so far this year. Fifty were recovered in 2018 by the sheriff’s office, down from 52 in 2017 and 61 in 2016.
Those 642 bodies are but a fraction of the border-wide total. From October 1997 to September 2018, the Border Patrol recorded 7,505 migrant deaths in its nine sectors along the entire southwestern border. The actual number of border deaths is likely higher, because the Border Patrol figure includes only cases reported to the authorities— no one knows how many were never found.
The sheriff of Brooks County, Urbino “Benny” Martinez, said he was not all that surprised that some people were unaware of what has been happening in his county, including the president of the United States.
“It’s kind of that old thing — out of sight, out of mind, and if it’s not happening in your backyard, you’re not going to pay attention to it,” Sheriff Martinez said.
On the day the president spoke, the first call came in to the sheriff’s office shortly before 10 a.m., a few hours into Deputy Mora’s 12-hour shift. Border Patrol agents had called it in — the body of a woman, near a barbed wire fence in the back corner of a ranch. Her skeleton was face down. She was carrying cash from Honduras, Mexico and the United States. Prayer cards were found in the dirt around her, and in the pockets of her jeans.
“The Border Patrol agents were following a group of illegals northbound, towards the highway, and the group crossed over the body and just kept going,” Deputy Mora said. “The agents came across it and called it out.”
Deputy Mora was back in the office, writing up her report, when the second call came in shortly before noon. A worker had found the body of a man at another ranch. The man was lying face up, his arms extended out, on a sandy road known as a drag. A Honduran ID card was in his black wallet.
Dr. Corinne E. Stern, who is the chief medical examiner of Laredo’s Webb County and who conducts autopsies for Brooks County, said both bodies had not yet been positively identified. The woman was possibly a Honduran missing person. The man was likely the Honduran on the ID, Dr. Stern said.
“The most likely cause of death is dehydration,” Dr. Stern said of both bodies.
Relatives in Honduras said they believed the man who was found last week was indeed the person on the ID card: Rudy Donaldo Martinez Arias, 21, a husband and father who lived in the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. Relatives said they were told Mr. Martinez had died of thirst in South Texas after the coyote abandoned him and other migrants.
“He left our country, Honduras, because the salaries are not enough here,” Maricela Amador, 24, Mr. Martinez’s cousin, said in an interview using Facebook messages. “It is pure poverty. That’s why people migrate to the United States without knowing what awaits them. He wanted to leave to find a good job where he could provide for his family.”
Mr. Martinez’s daughter is 3 years old. In January, he posted a selfie of the two of them on his Facebook page. A relative posted a comment, remarking how beautiful the girl looked.
“Yes, that’s right,” Mr. Martinez wrote in Spanish. “She’s the most beautiful, my princess.”
Nubia Reyna contributed reporting from Brownsville, Tex.
Manny is one of a team of New York Times journalists reporting on the border. Each week they share a slice of their reporting about the border and the people who spend time on both sides of it.
Do you have questions about life on the border? Or feedback about this newsletter? Email us at: email@example.com.
By Concepción de León, New York Times books department
I write a column in which I recommend books for readers who want to better understand a topic in the news — climate change, immigration or the economy, for instance. To pick the books, I try to understand the questions my selections should answer. In this case: How do we understand life at the border? What happens to those who try to cross it? Is it as dangerous as some fear?
These five books offer some answers to these questions, but they stand out because they also complicate and deepen our understanding of the stretch of land where Mexico and the United States meet, and the people who live there.
LOST CHILDREN ARCHIVE, by Valeria Luiselli (2019)
This road-trip novel follows two parents and their children on what may be their last trip together. They travel from east to west, each parent’s mind set on a different destination. For the mother, it is the border. She is haunted by the news of the unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States alone, and their journey looms throughout the book. Our reviewer wrote: “The novel truly becomes novel again in her hands — electric, elastic, alluring, new. And the story of the migrant, she believes, insists upon a new form: How else to tell a story that has no end?” Read the full New York Times review here.
UNACCOMPANIED, by Javier Zamora (2017)
Mr. Zamora, who was born in El Salvador, crossed the border alone at 9 to reunite with his parents in the United States. In this collection of poems, he mines his memories of crossing, remembers the country he left behind and imagines his parents’ journeys. Mr. Zamora wrote an essay about his experience for the opinion section last fall.
RETABLOS: Stories From a Life Lived Along the Border, by Octavio Solis (2018)
This memoir is told in a series of vignettes that focus on singular episodes formative to the writer’s identity. It’s modeled after the Mexican tradition of retablo painting, folk art that depicts life-altering stories visually on pieces of repurposed metal. Mr. Solis, who grew up just a mile from the Rio Grande in El Paso, writes about experiences such as being ridiculed for mispronouncing an English word in class or once finding a Mexican girl hiding in a cotton field.
THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER: Dispatches From the Border, by Francisco Cantú (2018)
Tired of reading about the border secondhand, Mr. Cantú decided to join the Border Patrol. This book covers his four years working as an agent in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Though the agents are primed for drug cartels, they more often encounter their victims: “bewildered, disoriented, helpless migrants,” our reviewer wrote. When it was released last year, Mr. Cantú’s book drew some criticism from immigrants. Read more about that controversy here.
ACROSS THE WIRE: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border, by Luis Alberto Urrea (1993)
Mr. Urrea, who is Mexican-American and was born in Tijuana, depicts the suffering of Mexico’s poor in Tijuana through a series of vignettes. A Times reviewer compared this book, one of a several Mr. Urrea has written which reckon with border life, to Elie Wiesel’s “Night,” about life in an internment camp, and says that it’s just as difficult to read. “But we keep returning to Mr. Urrea’s prose because it is startling, poetic and razor-sharp; in the midst of the most brutal sequences, we are informed and shaken, made to feel the pain of others as if it were our own,” wrote the reviewer.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have recommendations for others? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read earlier installments of Crossing the Border here. Sign up here to have the next issue delivered to your inbox.B:
天机报玄机图78期“【小】【南】……” 【看】【到】【自】【来】【也】【忽】【然】【回】【头】【并】【且】【呼】【唤】【自】【己】【的】【名】【字】，【让】【小】【南】【有】【些】【惊】【讶】，【愣】【了】【愣】【神】。 “【带】【着】【长】【门】，【先】【躲】【远】【一】【点】。” 【自】【来】【也】【缓】【缓】【道】。 【小】【南】【闻】【言】【有】【些】【发】【懵】，【眼】【神】【中】【不】【由】【浮】【现】【出】【一】【股】【自】【责】，【不】【过】【抱】【在】【怀】【中】【的】【长】【门】【几】【声】【虚】【弱】【痛】【苦】【的】【轻】【咳】【后】，【很】【快】【就】【回】【过】【了】【神】。 【没】【敢】【再】【犹】【豫】，【小】【南】【抱】【起】【长】【门】，**【纸】【片】【开】【始】
【叶】【天】【这】【一】【嗓】【子】，【负】【责】【留】【守】【在】【一】【楼】【大】【堂】【内】【的】【这】【一】【小】【部】【分】【鬼】【子】【士】【兵】，【一】【下】【子】【全】【部】【都】【注】【意】【到】【了】【楼】【梯】【口】【处】【浓】【烟】【滚】【滚】，【根】【本】【不】【清】【楚】【到】【底】【是】【怎】【么】【一】【回】【事】【的】【鬼】【子】【士】【兵】，“【呼】【啦】”【一】【下】【子】【全】【部】【朝】【着】【这】【边】【跑】【了】【过】【来】。 【鬼】【子】【纷】【纷】【朝】【着】【沦】【为】【火】【海】【的】【楼】【梯】【口】【处】【靠】【拢】【过】【来】，【而】【叶】【天】【则】【是】【拉】【着】【心】【中】【大】【为】【震】【惊】【不】【已】【的】【周】【幼】【薇】【借】【机】【趁】【乱】【偷】【偷】【的】【溜】【到】【了】【外】【围】天机报玄机图78期【啊】【啊】【啊】【啊】【啊】【啊】【啊】【啊】【啊】—— 【楚】【月】【视】【角】： 【身】【体】【在】【异】【世】【界】【不】【断】【飘】【荡】，【四】【周】【皆】【是】【深】【紫】【色】【的】【超】【能】【力】【波】【动】【扭】【曲】【空】【间】，【就】【好】【像】【做】【着】【机】【器】【猫】【的】【时】【空】【旅】【行】【飞】【船】【一】【般】【急】【速】【坠】【落】。 【紧】【接】【是】【晕】【眩】+【头】【痛】+【意】【识】【消】【失】。 【胡】【地】【使】【用】【出】【的】【瞬】【间】【移】【动】【技】【能】【根】【据】【威】【力】【强】【弱】【会】【带】【来】【截】【然】【不】【同】【的】【影】【响】，【上】【一】【次】【紫】【苑】【镇】【怪】【物】【胡】【地】【使】【用】【瞬】【间】【移】【动】【时】【候】【威】
“【既】【然】【你】【已】【经】【醒】【了】【为】【什】【么】【还】【要】【找】【我】？【难】【道】【你】【也】【拿】【地】【球】OL【系】【统】【没】【办】【法】？” 【李】【斯】【皱】【着】【眉】，【察】【觉】【到】【了】【星】【界】【之】【主】【的】【一】【点】【神】【色】。 “【不】，【醒】【来】【后】【我】【感】【觉】【到】【他】【是】【与】【我】【自】【身】【类】【似】【的】【星】【界】【意】【识】，【但】【却】【要】【比】【我】【虚】【弱】【一】【些】，【因】【此】【我】【开】【始】【对】【他】，【或】【者】【说】【他】【们】【进】【行】【反】【向】【侵】【蚀】。” 【星】【界】【意】【识】【摇】【了】【摇】【头】，【说】【道】：“【一】【切】【都】【很】【顺】【利】，【直】【到】……
【第】【二】【百】【零】【六】【章】【不】【是】【医】【阁】【的】【附】【属】【品】 【远】【道】【只】【是】【看】【了】【眼】【宰】【启】，【没】【有】【说】【话】，【不】【过】【眸】【子】【里】【却】【满】【是】【赞】【同】。 【昨】【日】，【他】【们】【在】【调】【查】【那】【日】【出】【现】【的】【上】【古】【血】【脉】【时】，【忽】【然】【感】【受】【到】【翎】【羽】【的】【召】【唤】，【远】【道】【便】【赶】【忙】【拉】【着】【宰】【启】【赶】【了】【回】【去】。 【翎】【羽】【是】【当】【日】【里】【远】【道】【送】【给】【花】【颜】【的】【信】【物】，【若】【是】【花】【颜】【遇】【到】【了】【什】【么】【危】【险】，【或】【是】【需】【要】【他】【们】【的】【帮】【助】【的】【时】【候】，【可】【以】【凭】【借】【着】【此】
【半】【小】【时】【后】… “【董】【事】【长】，【您】【来】【啦】！” “【嗯】！”【点】【了】【点】【头】，【林】【瑞】【率】【先】【走】【了】【进】【去】。 【不】【过】【他】【走】【的】【是】【后】【门】，【并】【不】【是】【专】【卖】【店】【的】【大】【门】。【不】【然】【他】【这】【位】【食】【神】【饭】【店】【的】【大】【老】【板】【一】【露】【面】，【肯】【定】【又】【要】【引】【起】【一】【阵】【不】【小】【的】【轰】【动】。 【坐】【在】【沙】【发】【上】，【林】【瑞】【听】【着】【百】【晓】【生】【的】【工】【作】【汇】【报】。 “【董】【事】【长】，【这】【个】【月】【的】【收】【入】，【我】【已】【经】【全】【部】【打】【到】【您】【的】***【里】