Category: Education

‘Invisible Graves’ focus of speech

‘Invisible Graves’ focus of speech

By Andrea Martinez
Bridge contributing writer
Published March 30, 2020

Near the U.S.-Mexico border, there are high numbers of unknown dead migrants. These migrants are buried in trash bags in forgotten unmarked graves.

Professor Kate Spradley, a forensic anthropologist at Texas State University, presented “Invisible Graves: Migrant Deaths in the Texas Desert” at TAMIU. She quoted Sheriff Martinez of Brooks County, Texas, “For every person found, there are at least five that are not found.”

Spradley said Brooks County is recognized as “Death Valley” for all the migrants passing through. It is a little further from the border; however, it bears the highest migrant death toll for Texas border towns since 2009. They bury the unknown migrants in the Sacred Heart Burial Park. Most were found in trash bags—about 12 migrants in one grave. They were also buried along with personal belongings and trash.

“Until 2013, people were buried and forgotten in unmarked graves in Brooks County,” Spradley said.

She said Arizona’s medical examiner tries to identify the victims and contact each family. In Webb County, there is a medical examiner; however, they also try to help six other counties in this assessment, making the work more difficult.

One of the other counties the medical examiner takes care of is Cameron and Willacy counties. Spradley investigated the site with her students and they found that when they were told they would find 31 buried bodies, they found up to 70 instead.

In Cameron and Willacy counties, they have paupers’ graves, along with migrants, buried in the middle of nowhere. Paupers are people who died and could not afford proper funerals; however, they lived in the U.S. and likely died of natural causes. Spradley said her team could tell the difference because of the way they are buried. Migrants are kind of just thrown into trash bags with their personal belongings and maybe some trash. Paupers’ graves, on the other hand, are buried with a certain position and are placed more carefully.

When she removed personal belongings found in the graves, she and her team washed them and tried to see if there was anything to help identify the body.

“People carry a variety of things with them when they migrate,” Spradley said. “Personal effects are key for family.”

She mentioned a story of a migrant who died and his sister recognized his shoes and that is how she was able to place a name on the recovered body.

“What about the unidentified bodies that were cremated and the ashes were mishandled?” history major Joshua Grajeda asked Spradley during a Q&A, following her presentation.

“Texas Court of Federal Procedures … you are not allowed to cremate unidentified remains but about five years ago in the health and safety code, they put in there that you can … when approved by a county judge,” Spradley responded.

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Student staff of The Bridge receives honors

During its end-of-semester dinner and awards, several members of The Bridge Independent Student Newspaper Fall 2019 staff were honored for their journalistic work on the paper. The event was held Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 11, at Cheddar’s restaurant in Laredo, Texas.

In addition, promotions were announced: Current Editor-in-chief Matthew Balderas graduates tomorrow, Dec. 12, and current Staff Writer David Gomez Jr. was promoted tonight to become the new editor-in-chief. Current Staff Writer Erick Barrientos was also promoted to the rank of Managing Editor. While both are fairly new to college journalism, they have stepped up to the plate and worked well as a team. In addition to her continuing duties, Director of Photography Jessica Rodriguez will also be picking up the mantle of Director of Social Media for The Bridge. Current Staff Writer Nayelle Acosta steps up to join the newspaper design staff. Current Bridge Illustrator Tomas Cruz will be shifting positions to focus on monetization as the new Advertising Director for The Bridge. Jennifer Rodriguez joins the staff as a photographer. Brandon Valdez joins the staff to help with social media.

The Bridge Hall of Fame Inductee for Fall 2019: Editor-in-chief Matthew Balderas, “For his long-standing service to The Bridge from rookie reporter in 2017 to editor-in-chief and chief designer in 2019, for helping grow the student newspaper and journalism program at TAMIU, and for his countless hours behind the curtain, performing the magic.”

  • The Bridge Best Rookie for Fall 2019: David Gomez Jr.
  • The Bridge Best Deadline Management for Fall 2019: David Gomez Jr.
  • The Bridge Reporter of the Semester: Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Photographer of the Semester: Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best Editorial for Fall 2019: “Is 33 larger than 39,773? … asking for a friend” by Matthew Balderas
  • The Bridge Best Opinion Column for Fall 2019: “Our ol’ payphone reflects past, present, future” by David Gomez Jr.
  • The Bridge Best Illustration for Fall 2019: “Are you still listening?” by Tomas Cruz
  • The Bridge Best Photo Illustration for Fall 2019: “God the Mother representatives startle students” by Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best News Story for Fall 2019: “God the Mother representatives startle students” by Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Best News Photo for Fall 2019: “Climate strike raises environmental issues” by Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Best Feature Story for Fall 2019: “Goodbye to a dear friend” by Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Best Feature Photo for Fall 2019: “Dance concert displays student creativity” by Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best Sports Story for Fall 2019: “Men’s soccer wraps up historic season” by Allan Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best Sports Photo for Fall 2019: “Men’s soccer wraps up historic season” by Matthew Balderas

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Stanford professor talks immigration, US way of life in lecture series

Recently, the public discourse has been focused on immigration issues, such as Trump’s wall and the recent changes to DACA. Tomás Jiménez, a Stanford associate professor of sociology, spoke on campus Sept. 19 about his new publication “The Other Side of Assimilation: How Immigrants are Changing American Life.” Continue reading “Stanford professor talks immigration, US way of life in lecture series”
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New Concerns Over State Funding

Drastic cuts to funding are a growing concern for universities in the Texas A&M system. Senate Bill 1, introduced earlier this year as part of the state’s General Appropriations Bill, may result in double-digit budget cuts for several system campuses for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Continue reading “New Concerns Over State Funding”
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Achieving Graduation as a Parent

By Betsabe Segovia Being an undergraduate in college is stressful at times. Being a college student, a parent, and holding down a job is even more difficult, especially when affordable child care is hard to find and many parents are working just to pay for the daycare and your classes.   Continue reading “Achieving Graduation as a Parent”
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New Buildings Coming to TAMIU and LCC

By Catherine Geissler It is no secret to Laredoans that our city’s reputation has been tainted by negative national and international reporting focused on gang violence, drug scandals and other stories that mainstream media loves to overexpose. Underneath these fabrications, scandalized news reports and even exploitation from the entertainment industry is a very unique culture, rich in its own culinary fusions, film, music, academic and other components to Laredo that makes it truly one of kind.   Continue reading “New Buildings Coming to TAMIU and LCC”
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Questionable Content in State Textbook

Textbooks are the biggest source of curriculum oriented information a student can get at any grade level in any educational institution. An educator can  base whole lectures, exams, and curriculum around a textbook to provide an easier and direct learning experience for their students.   This year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released Proclamation 2017 which lists a set of publishing companies and materials recommended for the school districts of Texas to use. This year was particularly important for one reason, as the TEA would finally release a recommended textbook focusing on Latino/Mexican-American studies in response to Chicano activists coming together demanding that Hispanic studies was added into the curriculum of Texas schools. Continue reading “Questionable Content in State Textbook”
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After School Special

By Juan Castillo After the last bell rings at school, most kids board the bus or get picked up by their parents and resume their life at home till the next school day. What about the kids that have to wait at school due to parents’ work schedules? What do they partake in? Who do they partake in any activities with? Why not start an after school music program that teaches students to learn, read and play music? Continue reading “After School Special”
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