Rising immigrant deaths put burden on Texas county

September 22, 2013 • National News

In this Aug. 23, 2013, photo, rancher Lavoyger Durham checks a 55-gallon he keeps filled with water jugs and marked by a flag on his ranch, near Falfurrias, Texas. Brooks County, home to a Border Patrol checkpoint about an hour north of the border, handled 129 bodies last year of immigrants that died in their attempt to come to the U.S. Brooks County is now trying to improve its services by performing an autopsy on all immigrants and making greater efforts to identify them. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

FALFURRIAS, Texas (AP) — By the time the woman perished, she had probably slogged 25 miles through dry ranch lands in her quest to enter the United States. She was found just feet from a highway where she might have been picked up and taken to Houston with other migrants making the same journey.

Not long ago, her body would have been taken to a funeral home for a cursory attempt at identification, then buried in this town an hour north of the Mexico border under a sign reading “unknown female.”

Her death, probably from hyperthermia, is part of a mounting body count that has overwhelmed sparsely populated Brooks County, providing further evidence that immigrants are shifting their migration routes away from the well-worn paths into Arizona and instead crossing into deep southern Texas. The changing patterns have put an extra burden on local governments with limited experience in such matters and even fewer financial resources.

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