Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Leutert on Brooks County, Texas, and the Migrant Crisis

Oct 28, 2019 |

Stephanie Leutert, Director of the Central America and Mexico Policy Initiative at the Strauss Center, recently authored an article for the national security law blog Lawfare. In her article “One County, 650 Migrant Deaths: An Introduction,” she introduces a series of essays on the deaths of 650 people in Brooks County, Texas, between 2009 and 2019 while attempting to circumvent a nearby Customs and Border Protection checkpoint.

Even though Brooks County is 70 miles north of the border, it has become the deadliest county in Texas for migrants due to the nearby Falfurrias CBP checkpoint. The mainly adult migrants are driven to hike through the dense Texas brush on remote trails to avoid detection, often with fatal consequences.

Leutert describes her partnership with Sheriff Martinez and his team in her quest to understand the demographic trends and in return, make recommendations for ways to improve search and rescue and recovery operations. In the process, she details the humanity of the hundreds of individuals within the files as well as the 7,200 residents of Brooks County who discover these remains during their daily lives.

She also released the second installment in the series on these deaths “In the Brush of Brooks County: Who’s Dying in South Texas?”.

These deaths are also covered in a Lawfare podcast episode from the Texas Tribune Festival on September 28, 2019 with Strauss Center Director Bobby Chesney.