A recent surge of unaccompanied children has drawn fresh attention to the U.S.-Mexico border. In the Texas sprawl just beyond those checkpoints, another, little-noticed catastrophe is unfolding: thousands of dead and injured left along backcountry paths carved to make way for pipelines.
These unpatrolled, unmonitored corridors make for ideal execution sites for errant couriers, business rivals, informers, and unwitting migrants who stray into the wrong place at the wrong time.With the Obama administration requesting $3.8 billion to manage the young migrants flooding the border, this more deeply entrenched challenge risks sliding further down Washington’s priority list, leaving ranchers, farmers and oil industry workers to fend for themselves. Texas Governor Rick Perry cited the threat of drug smugglers this week in dispatching 1,000 state National Guard troops to the Rio Grande.
The Border Patrol finds an average of one corpse a day in the badlands near the U.S.-Mexico border; in the past 15 years, the toll has reached 5,570, exceeding all U.S. combat deaths for the Iraq war. While the Border Patrol says it doesn’t break out what proportion of the dead meet their end along the pipeline trails, anecdotal evidence suggests it’s high.
Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg
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