An anthropologist at Baylor University is leading an effort to exhume the remains of unidentified illegal immigrants in Brooks County.
The project is aimed at providing a sense of closure for the families of those immigrants, and it is all set to begin next month.
Brooks County officials call the project a win-win. Officials said Brooks County itself will not have to pay for the project, and that Baylor University has really stepped up to the plate.
"Anything like that is a welcome help, and of course the primary goal is to get these unknowns identified and at least get an idea as to where they're from, whether they be from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, depending on what country they're from," said Chief Deputy Benny Martinez of the Brooks County Sheriff's Department.
There were 129 immigrant remains found in Brooks County last year. Many of those remains are buried in unmarked graves at the Falfurrias Cemetery. Now, Dr. Lori Baker, a physical anthropologist at Baylor University, has taken on the job of identifying the remains.
Brooks County officials said a team led by Dr. Baker, which will include other professors, associate professors and some 28 students, will come to Brooks County next month to exhume the remains.
"In relative terms, like when you do student teaching, that you go down to an actual classroom, they're coming down to an actual site where they will be able to participate in the removal of the bodies, trying to identify them, trying to get them back to their loved ones," Brooks County Judge Raul Ramirez said.
Brooks County officials said the exact number of unidentified immigrant remains at the cemetery is unknown. They estimate it to be anywhere from 55-100.
Officials said that Dr. Baker and her team are set to begin their research on May 18, and will continue for a week. One of the local ranches as stepped up and invited the students to stay at their quarters while they do their research.
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