Scientists from Baylor University are scheduled to exhume the remains of undocumented and unidentified immigrants buried in the Falfurrias city cemetery Sunday. Falfurrias is the county seat of Brooks County, located deep in south Texas. It is also located a few miles north from a Border Patrol checkpoint located on Highway 281.
In 2012, authorities in Brooks County found 129 sets of human remains on private ranches and thick brush within the county line. Forty seven sets were never identified. The county paid to bury them in paupers graves in the city cemetery.
"These are human lives," said Tom Power, with the Texas Civil Rights Project. "These are people who have died trying to provide for their families. These are human lives that we're talking about."
Tom Power is a civil rights activist. His group is leaving Houston Saturday and will head to Falfurrias to talk to residents and watch the exhumation of the immigrant graves.
"It is against the law to not provide DNA testing when remains are otherwise unidentifiable," Power said. "What Baylor is going to be doing starting on Sunday is exhuming some of the bodies that have not been identified to start taking forensic tests on them."
Power's group, along with the team from Baylor, will be in Falfurrias for one week, hoping match a name with the numbers etched on metal burial markers.
The Baylor group will work through a University of North Texas DNA lab, using federal funds.
"We've gotten quotes from the county judge and different (county leaders) that would quote each missing person at (costing the county) $1500 to $2500," Power said. "Our group has put together formal proposals which we've submitted asking for emergency (money) from the Texas state legislature to go to different counties, one of them being Brooks, who unfortunately- they're violating the law."