Wide Open Texas Spaces

Answering the Phone

Earlier this semester I sat with a student in my office for the first of several long conversations. His family came to the US from Ecuador when he was a child because his father had a work contract in Indiana. He graduated high school, enrolled at UIndy and is in his Senior year. While in college his family’s work visa expired and they returned home. He was able to stay to complete his degree. He hadn’t seen his parents or younger siblings since they returned to Ecuador. He was excited because his father was getting a new contract and was coming back so he was going to a hearing about the visa. The next time we met he told me his visa was denied because he is 20 years old and too old to be on the family visa. His parents and younger siblings are coming back to Indiana while he faces the reality of going back to a country he doesn’t know.  Is this the story of a migrant we encountered on our trip? No, but it could be. We fight over our broken system and we blame each other for the problems and in the process, we forget these are people. Every skeleton we recover or body bag we pull from the ground is a person with a story. Whatever their story, all I can think of is being on the other end of the phone. Waiting for the call that never comes. Making all the promises to God to just let them call or just let them answer when I call. That helpless feeling of just not knowing what is going on or what to do. While the answers we provide are not what many families want, at least we’re answering the phone when their loved one could not.

Beynd Borders Team members dig searching for skeletal remains
The 2024 UIndy Beyond Borders Team

All the people you read about on the blog are volunteers. They volunteer their time, use their own money and chose to dedicate themselves to answering that phone call from family members. Politics aside, the people we work with in the Texas Borderlands run the spectrum from right to left. Whoever you ask will say you cannot have an informed opinion until you spend a few days in the brush. And they all just want to bring some closure to families and return their loved one home. If you have the ability to donate to the cause here are some links:

Beyond Borders Humanitarian Forensic Science Team: Donate Here

Remote Wildlands Search and Recovery: Donate Here

South Texas Human Rights Center: Donate Here

Thank you for following our work. We appreciate your support and the ability to share our experiences with you. We will continue regular posts when we depart for another trip to the Texas Borderlands.