Here’s a conversation with someone whom I admire a lot. Eddie Canales was concerned about rising numbers of migrants dying of dehydration and exposure while trying to circumvent Border Patrol highway checkpoints, so he founded and runs the South Texas Human Rights Center in the town of Falfurrias, about 80 miles north of the border. The Center puts out aid stations and assists forensic experts who try to identify remains and notify their loved ones.
Here’s the descriptive text, on WOLA’s website, for this episode with Eddie Canales:
A discussion with Eduardo “Eddie” Canales, founder and director of the South Texas Human Rights Center in Falfurrias, Texas.
Falfurrias is in Brooks County, an area of ranchland 80 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. It is also one of the deadliest places for migrants. Dozens each year get lost while trying to walk around checkpoints that Border Patrol has placed on highways, and end up dying of dehydration and exposure in the south Texas heat. The South Texas Human Rights Center works to prevent this, putting out dozens of water and aid stations. This involves negotiations and relationship-building with ranchers in an area where most land is private property. It also involves cooperating with efforts to identify the remains and alert relatives in the deceased migrants’ home countries.
Many times a year Eddie, and the technicians with whom he cooperates, help give some closure to parents, spouses, and children who don’t know what happened to a loved one who disappeared after emigrating to the United States. Doing that is expensive—it involves DNA sampling, forensic expertise, and maintenance of databases—and funds are insufficient.
Too often, resource-poor counties like Brooks have had to bear much of the cost. The remains of at least 7,500 people have been found near the border, on U.S. soil, since 2000.
And the crisis may be getting worse. The pandemic economy is leading more single adults to try to cross into the United States. Most of them are seeking to avoid being apprehended. Trying not to be apprehended means going through places like Brooks County, or deserts elsewhere along the border. Just this week, media in Arizona are reporting the largest number of migrant remains since 2013. And the year isn’t over.
The work of humanitarian workers and advocates like Eddie Canales is more important than ever. Join the Beyond the Wall campaign now to learn more.