Originally Published Thursday, April 3, 2014: Evil Portent For Immigrants & The US/Mexican Border: Several Lazy Bishops Make A Political Statement By Concelebrating The Stripped And Barren New Mass At The US Mexican Border!
Producer's Note, by Solly Granatstein
In "The Real Death Valley," we tell the story of Fernando Palomo, a 22-year-old Salvadoran who happened to be a talented artist, and who was beaten within a centimeter of his life when he refused to design a gang's tattoos. He and his older brother, like tens of thousands of others, fled their homeland and journeyed north to what they saw as the relative safety of the United States. They made it across the Rio Grande into Texas, but that hardly put an end to their troubles.
This joint investigation by The Weather Channel, Telemundo, and the Investigative Fund is about people who have already made it across the border, but whose lives are still very much at risk. Brooks county is 70 miles north of the Rio Grande. Migrants must go through it if they want to continue north to the jobs of cities like Houston. But there's an obstacle to their journey, right in the middle of the road. The county's main north-south axis, U.S. 281, is bisected by a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint. If you're undocumented and you need to make it past the checkpoint, you have to go around it, on foot. So, in groups of 20 to 30, organized by human smugglers known as coyotes, they hike through 40 miles of the vast, sandy brush of private ranches on either side of the highway.
The Brooks County checkpoint is nothing new. It's been around for decades. The vast flood of immigrants trying to evade it is. Meanwhile, high temperatures around Brooks County soar over 90 degrees for nearly half the year, over 100 degrees for more than two months. This is exacerbated by a drought that's been wracking the region for six years, making the ranches all that drier for thirsty migrants.