FALFURRIAS, Texas — The South Texas sun had scorched the woman's face. Flies swarmed over her lips. Under a nearby mesquite plant, a plastic water jug lay empty.Continue reading.
Brooks County Chief Deputy Sheriff Urbino Martinez picked it up and walked back to a group of officials gathered around the sprawled body of the dead migrant.
"She got left behind for some reason," he said. "Either she got ill or she just got tired and they left her, knowing very well she wasn't going to get out of this area."
Justice of the Peace Roel Villarreal noticed that the woman's pants were pulled down around her hips, and her shirt was wrapped over her shoulders — signs of the woman's desperate struggle to cool down, he said.
"When it's damn hot, that's what you do before you die," Villarreal said.
Across the desert expanses of California and Arizona, thousands have perished over the years while attempting to cross illegally into the United States. Now another region, this one in Texas, has become a lethal magnet for increasing numbers of migrants.
Many of these deaths occur as they try to make it through the vast ranch lands that surround a Border Patrol checkpoint on U.S. Highway 281, some 70 miles north of the border. It is the last obstacle for migrants trying to get to Houston, so they attempt to go around it by the hundreds every night.
The Rio Grande Valley recently surpassed the Tucson sector as the area with the most migrant arrests. The surging traffic has besieged border agents at the once-relatively tranquil checkpoint near the small town of Falfurrias. It also illuminates one of the major obstacles to a comprehensive immigration overhaul being debated in the Senate.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who visited the region in May, has expressed reluctance to support any bill that would not guarantee a 90% arrest rate of all illegal crossers, including a proposal unveiled Thursday that would double the size of the Border Patrol. He has cited the growing death count as evidence that the border remains out of control at the southern tip of Texas.
"As a policymaker, I have a responsibility to find real solutions to these issues that are all too familiar to Texans," Cornyn wrote in an op-ed published by Fox News. "Anything less only perpetuates this grotesque human tragedy playing out every day on American soil."
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