Texas: Immigrant Population Growing, Migration Routes Changing

Sep 24, 2013

Credit CBP Photography

Texas has one of the largest populations of “unauthorized” immigrants in the nation, and it is the only state that didn’t have a significant drop as did California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York according to data Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project. 

The Texas Tribune reported the figures are in the middle of a wide range, which means that actual numbers could be less or more than the estimates.  Census data provides information for the study, and that limits the ability to determine exact figures.

Texas had 1.7 million unauthorized immigrants in 2012.  A recent New York Times article suggests Central American immigrants are a significant portion of that population, and they’re changing migration routes.  These immigrants no longer enter the United States through Arizona, instead choosing a more direct route deep into southern Texas… right through Brooks County.

In Brooks County, immigrants hike two to three days in order to get around the Border Patrol Checkpoint.  In that trek, sometimes they die.  Last year 129 bodies were found, this year the total is already at 76.  The financial responsibility to identify the dead, take DNA samples, and perform autopsies is straining resources in this rural place of 7,100. 

Lavoyger Durham, manager of the El Tule Ranch, says he would prefer for the government to erect a double-layer border fence. But in the meantime, the 68 year old does not want to see people continue to die on the ranch, so he’s solving the problem in his own way.  He’s created a water station- a 55-gallon blue plastic drum full of one-gallon water jugs, marked with a big blue flag waving 30 foot in the air. 

“I’m trying to expose the killing fields of Brooks County,” Mr. Durham said. “If dead human beings don’t catch your attention, what the hell else is going to? We’re just trying to be human about it.”

Durham estimates he has found 25 bodies on the property in the last 23 years.