Ongoing crisis documented in new film ‘Missing in Brooks County’

Free outdoor screening will be held Saturday evening in San Antonio

A documentary five years in the making, “Missing in Brooks County,” shows the stark reality of an ongoing crisis of migrants dying in the unforgiving terrain around a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.

SAN ANTONIO – A documentary five years in the making, “Missing in Brooks County,” shows the stark reality of an ongoing crisis of migrants dying in the unforgiving terrain around a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.

“I didn’t recognize this as something that could happen in the U.S.,” said co-director Lisa Molomot.

Being from Tucson, Molomot said she’s familiar with the issue, but it’s different from what’s happening in Brooks County.

In Arizona, she said, “There is actually a system in place to deal with identifying the remains and repatriating them.”

But at least now, Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez said they have a portable morgue in Falfurrias.

He also said through its partnership with the Missing Migrant Program, human remains are being identified and sent to their families more quickly than they have been.

As it is, Martinez said there’s been a 200% increase in the bodies discovered on the ranches that surround the checkpoint, with 78 remains found so far this year.

“Thirteen bodies recovered since Sunday of this week,” Martinez said.

Not only is August one of the hottest months of the year, Martinez said many of those in the surge at the border are coming up through Brooks County.

In the film, a family from Houston is still trying to find their loved one.

“That was a number of years ago already, and they have no idea what happened to him,” Molomot said. “He went missing in Brooks County. That’s the last he was heard from.”

“Missing in Brooks County” follows their often frustrating search, and the work of Eddie Canales, founder of the South Texas Human Rights Center, where families often come for help.

The film will have a free outdoor screening at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Inn on Riverwalk, as part of its Texas tour.

Molomot said its final screening will be at the Brooks County Courthouse in Falfurrias at 1 p.m. Aug. 27.

She also added that “Missing in Brooks County” will be shown for “a couple of months” on Laemmle Virtual Cinema.

Starting January 31, Molomot said PBS’s “Independent Lens” will begin airing the film as well.


About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Bill Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.