Brooks County, Texas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Brooks County
The Brooks County Courthouse in Falfurrias
The Brooks County Courthouse in Falfurrias
Map of Texas highlighting Brooks County
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 27°02′N 98°13′W / 27.04°N 98.21°W / 27.04; -98.21
Country United States
State Texas
Founded1911
Named forJames Brooks
SeatFalfurrias
Largest cityFalfurrias
Area
 • Total944 sq mi (2,440 km2)
 • Land943 sq mi (2,440 km2)
 • Water0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)  0.03%%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total7,076
 • Density7.5/sq mi (2.9/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district15th
Websitewww.co.brooks.tx.us

Brooks County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2020 census, its population was 7,076.[1] Its county seat is Falfurrias.[2] The county is named for James Abijah Brooks, a Texas Ranger and legislator. It is one of the poorest counties in Texas.[3] Much of it is large ranches: part of the King Ranch occupies the eastern portion of the county;[4] the Mariposa Ranch is the largest on the county's west side. About 91% of the county's population is Latino.

"Death Valley" for migrants[edit]

In the documentary Missing in Brooks County, Brooks County is called the "epicenter" of America's immigration problem. Already in 2014 it was called a "Death Valley" for migrants.[5] Brooks County is "the nation's busiest corridor for illegal immigration;"[3] a tracking camera records up to 150 a night going through one piece of property.[3] More illegal migrants die in Brooks County than in any other county in America.[6] Though it lies about 80 miles (130 km) miles north of the border, it is on a main route for anyone entering from Mexico toward San Antonio and Dallas.

The biggest employer in Brooks County is the Border Patrol interior checkpoint on US 281, built in 1994 and much enlarged in 2019,[7] called the Falfurrias checkpoint although it is not within the city. Many migrants attempt to bypass it by hiking some 35 miles (56 km) through the open, dry terrain, called by ranchers "the killing fields".[8]

The ground is sandy and hard to walk on. Lack of landmarks often causes disorientation; some migrants walk in circles. Bright sun and high summer temperatures—regularly over 100 °F (38 °C)—kill many of them of dehydration and exposure. They are also subject to mistreatment by smugglers, who may rape them or hold them for ransom by relatives.[6] There are typically "a few dozen cellphone calls a day" to 911 from migrants in distress;[3] between 2016 and 2018 there were 722 calls leading to rescues.[6] The Border Patrol carried out the rescues, in the process arresting and/or deporting the rescued.

Every day, some 60 to 70 undocumented immigrants are apprehended by the Border Patrol of Brooks County, often saving their lives.[6] According to Tom Slowinski, in charge of the facility in 2019, "no other checkpoint anywhere on the Southwest border catches more alien smuggling cases than this checkpoint right here."[9]

Migrants bypassing the Border Patrol checkpoint sometimes damage property, tear down fences, steal, or threaten people on the ranches through which they pass.[6] Residents resent the reputation the Border Patrol checkpoint has given their county, and the drain on their time and resources to deal with the many corpses—recovering, identifying when possible, and burying them—for a problem they did not create and have almost no control over.[5][6][3][10] Between 2009 and 2018, over 600 bodies were recovered, and according to sheriff's deputy Benny Martinez, the corpses never found are 5 to 10 times more numerous than those found.[6] Another estimate is over 2000.[11] The missing persons reports are much more numerous than the bodies recovered.[6] Most bodies are never identified.

The county has been described as "the biggest cemetery in America", the cost of dealing with migrant corpses has bankrupted the county, which has unsuccessfully sought federal help. The sheriff's department has been cut from 12 to 2 deputies, working 48 hour weeks with no health insurance and aging cars. The only public library in Brooks County, the Ed Rachal Memorial Library, is, in 2021, open one day a week.[12] The Border Patrol, which does not answer 911 calls or recover dead bodies as a matter of policy, has in Brooks County dozens of new 4-wheel drive trucks with infrared, its own car wash, a helicopter, a blimp, a canine team, and 300 well-paid agents.[3] (In 2019 pay for a starting agent with a high school diploma was $55,800 (equivalent to $59,141 in 2021).[13]) In 2019 the facility was replaced by a new and larger one.[14] It is the largest border checkpoint facility in the country, with the most modern equipment.

Measures to help the illegal migrants[edit]

  • South Texas Human Rights, based in Brooks County, operates a hotline to answer missing-person calls from relatives.[6]
  • Humanitarian groups have set up water stations and emergency beacons on some Brooks County ranches.[6] The Border Patrol sometimes arrests those who do so,[15] although in an Arizona case, jurors refused to convict.[16] Not all ranchers allow the water stations on their property, although the number is growing.
  • Some ranchers have given up on fencing, or have placed ladders so the migrants can climb over the fences without damaging them.[17] One rancher, however, put a 220 volt electric line on his fencing.[6]
  • Some ranchers have provided water stations, so that the migrants will not die on their property.
  • The water stations and other signs erected in the fields bear their geographical coordinates, so that those calling for help can say where they are.
  • Forrest Wilder, editor of the Texas Observer, has called for the station to be moved to a less dangerous location.[18]

Measures against the migrants[edit]

  • In a crime unsolved as of 2020, 14 water stations were stolen.[19]
  • Veterinarian Michael Vickers, who like Canales appears in the documentary Missing in Brooks County, is the co-founder of a paramilitary group, Texas Border Volunteers, that apprehends illegal migrants and turns them over to the Border Patrol.
  • Some are opposed to water stations. The South Texans' Property Rights Associations is an association of over 600 landowners, and keeps track of who will and who won't allow them.[19]

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 943.3 sq mi (2,443 km2), of which 943 sq mi (2,442 km2) are land and 0.3 sq mi (0.78 km2) (0.03%) is covered by water.[20]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
19204,560
19305,90129.4%
19406,3627.8%
19509,19544.5%
19608,609−6.4%
19708,005−7.0%
19808,4285.3%
19908,204−2.7%
20007,976−2.8%
20107,223−9.4%
20207,076−2.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[21]
1850–2010[22] 2010–2020[1]

2020 census[edit]

Brooks County racial composition[23][24]
(NH = Non-Hispanic)[a]
Race Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White (NH) 573 724 7.93% 10.23%
Black or African American (NH) 19 8 0.26% 0.11%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 10 9 0.14% 0.13%
Asian (NH) 18 29 0.25% 0.41%
Some Other Race (NH) 4 12 0.06% 0.17%
Mixed/Multi-Racial (NH) 9 52 0.12% 0.73%
Hispanic or Latino 6,590 6,242 91.24% 88.21%
Total 7,223 7,076

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 7,076 people, 2,475 households, and 1,419 families residing in the county.

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 United States Census, 7,223 people were living in the county; 89.6% were White, 0.5% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 7.9% of some other race, and 1.4% of two or more races. About 91.2% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[27] of 2000, 7,976 people, 2,711 households, and 2,079 families were residing in the county. The population density was 8 inhabitants per square mile (3.1/km2). The 3,203 housing units averaged 3/sq mi (1.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 75.84% White, 0.19% African American, 0.46% Native American, 0.09% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 21.58% from other races, and 1.77% from two or more races. About 91.57% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 2,711 households, 38.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.20% were married couples living together, 19.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.30% were not families. About 21.40% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92, and the average family size was 3.38.

In the county, the age distribution was 31.60% under the age of 18, 8.90% from 18 to 24, 23.40% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 14.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 94.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $18,622, and for a family was $22,473. Males had a median income of $23,051 versus $16,103 for females. The per capita income for the county was $10,234. About 36.90% of families and 40.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 51.70% of those under age 18 and 30.40% of those age 65 or over.

Politics[edit]

While Texas has become a stronghold of the Republican Party in the 21st century, Brooks County rests in the oldest extant Democratic stronghold in the state. It has never voted for a Republican presidential candidate since its creation in 1911.

Until 2020, no Republican had received more than 35% of the vote in the county since Richard Nixon in his 1972 landslide, and no Democrat since George McGovern that same year had received less than 65%. McGovern is one of only three Democrats, the others being Adlai Stevenson in 1956, and Joe Biden in 2020, to have received less than 60% of the vote in Brooks County since it first participated in presidential elections in 1912. In 2020, the county had a swing toward the Republican party in the national election. Despite the county still voting Democratic, it only gave 59% of the vote to Biden; his performance was the worst by a Democrat in Brooks County since 1956. Donald Trump was the first Republican to carry over 40% of the county's vote since 1972.

The only instance of Brooks County having ever cast its votes for a Republican was in 2010, when Comptroller Susan Combs won it during her re-election, as no Democrat filed to run.[28]

United States presidential election results for Brooks County, Texas[29]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 998 40.18% 1,470 59.18% 16 0.64%
2016 613 23.61% 1,937 74.61% 46 1.77%
2012 507 21.10% 1,886 78.49% 10 0.42%
2008 556 24.08% 1,747 75.66% 6 0.26%
2004 845 31.60% 1,823 68.18% 6 0.22%
2000 556 22.87% 1,854 76.26% 21 0.86%
1996 413 11.84% 2,945 84.43% 130 3.73%
1992 585 15.54% 2,856 75.86% 324 8.61%
1988 608 17.43% 2,859 81.94% 22 0.63%
1984 896 24.79% 2,702 74.76% 16 0.44%
1980 780 23.40% 2,488 74.65% 65 1.95%
1976 641 18.69% 2,782 81.13% 6 0.17%
1972 1,117 40.17% 1,657 59.58% 7 0.25%
1968 534 20.51% 1,904 73.12% 166 6.37%
1964 402 14.87% 2,299 85.05% 2 0.07%
1960 567 22.58% 1,934 77.02% 10 0.40%
1956 802 41.77% 1,108 57.71% 10 0.52%
1952 809 33.89% 1,577 66.07% 1 0.04%
1948 217 16.93% 1,029 80.27% 36 2.81%
1944 142 22.36% 403 63.46% 90 14.17%
1940 201 22.97% 670 76.57% 4 0.46%
1936 117 24.22% 365 75.57% 1 0.21%
1932 86 12.34% 608 87.23% 3 0.43%
1928 160 32.52% 332 67.48% 0 0.00%
1924 59 22.01% 205 76.49% 4 1.49%
1920 37 22.56% 127 77.44% 0 0.00%
1916 63 37.72% 101 60.48% 3 1.80%
1912 13 2.23% 402 69.07% 167 28.69%


Communities[edit]

City[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated community[edit]

Education[edit]

Brooks County Independent School District is the local K-12 school district.

Coastal Bend College (formerly Bee County College) is the designated community college for the county.[30]

Movie[edit]

  • Missing in Brooks County is a feature-length documentary that examines the deaths in Brooks County of migrants seeking to avoid the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint near Falfurrias. The film has won numerous awards after its presentation at movie festivals. As of November 2021, RottenTomatoes has given it a 100% rating.[31] According to the movie, the county is unhappy with the migrants; the county budget has taken a severe hit because of the large, unreimbursed expenses of recovering and burying migrant bodies, dead of dehydration or exposure. It was released for streaming November 2, 2021, and has been shown in selected theaters. It will be shown on PBS's Independent Lens series in January 2022.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Brooks County, Texas". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Saslow, Eli (August 9, 2014). "Going it alone. In one of the poorest counties in Texas, at the center of the U.S. border crisis, one deputy must do the work of many". Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 12, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  4. ^ Sanchez, Carlos (September 20, 2021). "The Texas checkpoint that forces migrants into dangerous terrain – and death. New documentary Missing in Brooks County looks at Falfurrias, one of the busiest immigration checkpoints in the US[,] and the growing number of deaths plaguing the nation's border region". The Guardian. Archived from the original on November 30, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Texas' Brooks County Is 'Death Valley' for Migrants. A deputy in one of the counties that has seen a surge in undocumented children says they have found 37 migrants' bodies this year alone". NBC News. July 9, 2014. Archived from the original on February 7, 2019. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Foster-Frau, Silvia (July 10, 2018). "The Brutal Border. Texas' Brooks County, part of the Border Patrol's massive Rio Grande Valley Sector, is ground zero for migrant deaths". U.S. News & World Report.
  7. ^ Sanchez, Sandra (September 5, 2019). "Border Patrol's most trafficked checkpoint gets new state-of-the-art station". Border Report. Archived from the original on December 1, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  8. ^ Texas' Brooks County Is 'Death Valley' for Migrants (video), NBC News, 2014, archived from the original on February 7, 2019, retrieved January 29, 2019
  9. ^ Westervelt, Eric (June 12, 2019). "As Migrants Stream In At The Border, Inland Checkpoints Feel The Strain". NPR. Archived from the original on November 15, 2021. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  10. ^ Miroff, Nick (June 3, 2021). "Huge border influx brings fears of grim summer for migrant deaths". Washington Post. Archived from the original on June 4, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2021 – via newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Gallegos, Ricardo (October 13, 2020). "Crítica de Missing in Brooks County, los desaparecidos de la frontera". La Estatuilla (Mexico). Archived from the original on November 19, 2021. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  12. ^ "Welcome to the Ed Rachal Memorial Library Catalog!". Archived from the original on November 19, 2021. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  13. ^ Thompson, A.C. (July 1, 2019). "Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes". ProPublica. Archived from the original on November 22, 2021. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  14. ^ Romero, Trockero. "Migracion... Falfurrias, Texas". Archived from the original on November 25, 2021. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  15. ^ Carroll, Rory (January 24, 2018). "Eight activists helping migrants cross brutal desert charged by US government. Charges fuel fears of Trump crackdown after Arizona-based group accused border patrol agents of sabotaging water containers". The Guardian. Archived from the original on November 24, 2021. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  16. ^ Associated Press (June 12, 2019). "Jurors refuse to convict activist facing 20 years for helping migrants.Jury could not reach a verdict against Scott Daniel Warren who was arrested in 2018 for giving migrants water, food and lodging". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 3, 2021. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  17. ^ Sanchez, Sandra (May 1, 2019). "South Texas rancher tours desolate brush country where he often sees migrants in distress. John David Franz shows where son found human remains, others hiding and lost". Border Report. Archived from the original on December 1, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  18. ^ Wilder, Forrest (May 20, 2015). "Border and immigration. To save lives, close the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint". Texas Observer.
  19. ^ a b Hernandez, Kristian (June 20, 2016). "Human rights center adds water stations as migrant deaths rise". Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas). p. 5.
  20. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  21. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 3, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  22. ^ "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850–2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 26, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  23. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved May 19, 2022.
  24. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved May 19, 2022.
  25. ^ www.census.gov
  26. ^ "About the Hispanic Population and its Origin". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  27. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 27, 1996. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  28. ^ "2010 Comptroller General General Election Results". David Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Archived from the original on February 28, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  29. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Archived from the original on March 23, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  30. ^ Texas Education Code Sec. 130.167. BEE COUNTY COLLEGE DISTRICT SERVICE AREA. Archived 2021-09-22 at the Wayback Machine The legislation calls it "Bee County College".
  31. ^ "Missing in Brooks County". Rottentomatoes. November 14, 2021. Archived from the original on November 14, 2021. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  1. ^ Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.[25][26]

Further reading (most recent first)[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°02′N 98°13′W / 27.04°N 98.21°W / 27.04; -98.21