All posts by Jordan Roberson

Returning Home

Returning home from our trip to Falfurrias has caused mixed emotions. Although I am happy to be home it has been somewhat difficult to adjust. Going from having a set daily routine with a strong purpose, one different from what I’m used to, to not has been hard. This trip has truly made me appreciate everything that I have and the privilege given to me in many ways.

I was able to learn a lot while in Texas. As I had predicted, there are many aspects of this trip I had attempted to prepare for that I really couldn’t do ahead of time. Until experiencing even a fraction of what migrants may face while crossing the border firsthand it is impossible to truly grasp the process. Even then the full extent of the journey is still unfathomable. The idea that anyone has to go through this is very difficult to contend with. I feel that I have not only gained a greater understanding of the crisis taking place at the border but will be able to educate others on what is taking place and how it affects everyone, not just those that are near geographically. I am grateful that I will be able to apply what I have learned during this trip to my continuing education and future career.

Team members walking back from a search
The final stretch

I also learned a lot about working as a team in a drastically different environment than normal. Initially, I thought that a slight adjustment would be necessary for our team but that we would work well together. I am happy to say that my prediction was true. Although we were in a new place and new environment, we were able to get to know each other, support one another, and get along well. We accomplished our goals and improved each day. This was a really important aspect to make our trip successful, and I believe that it was.

The team eating tamales

This experience is undeniably one of a kind and I am extremely thankful that I was able to be a part of it. Even though there were times of struggle, it was all worth it to provide any assistance we were able to offer. I would be very happy to experience it all again in the future.


Due Diligence

Day six group photo

Day 6!

Today, waking up and getting around was bittersweet. Sure, we’re all tired but this has been such a great experience it’s hard for it to come to an end. We started our day at breakfast with Ray and Don. Ray couldn’t come out with us today so unfortunately, we had to say goodbye before heading out. We were very happy he was able to accompany us while here and appreciate his assistance!

Team members taking a break in the brush

Izzy, Olivia, Austin, Don, and Dr. Latham on one of our breaks

We started where we left off yesterday, searching a portion of the ranch aiming to recover remains and material evidence important to the family members of a migrant who had gone missing. In this case, a cell phone. The cell phone may seem trivial to some, but could mean everything to his wife as it may contain photos that are important memories of her loved one. It is our job when conducting a recovery to work in the best interest of the decedent and their loved ones. This not only includes doing our due diligence to recover as many skeletal elements as possible but also extends to material objects like a cell phone.

Austin searching tall grass

Austin searching an area of the brush

After a line search of the area of interest, we each took a small portion where we combed the ground more thoroughly. During this search, we flagged skeletal elements until the area was fully searched. We then set up a baseline in order to obtain measurements and map any evidentiary items. Simultaneously, photos were taken to further document any findings. Once all documentation is finished each item is able to be collected by the proper authorities. In this case, we were very fortunate to find the cell phone that the family members were hoping to get back (good eye Austin!).

Team members taking measurements for mapping

Olivia and I measuring an element of interest for mapping

Once we felt comfortable that we searched this area thoroughly, Don drove us to another location on the same ranch. This was based on a description of an area where an individual went missing and had yet to be searched. We continued with our typical process of a line search moving west up the south side of a dirt road and then pivoting across to the north side to move east. The brush here was slightly less dense but the foliage was, in the words of Olivia “angrier”, as the plants had more thorns than we had experienced previously. On this search there was some evidence of migrant activity in the form of water bottles, food packaging, and a sweatshirt but less than we had seen at other locations. Finding this material evidence is important information for Don to know as he proceeds with searches of the area in the future.

Team members performing a line search

Line Searching

When our time in the field came to a close we all piled into the truck and headed back to town. Don gave us a bit of a tour. We got to go to the Brooks County Sheriff’s office where we got to meet Sherrif Benny Martinez. He has been very supportive of the work the Beyond Borders team does since the very beginning. We then wanted to end our week the way we started – with snow cones.

The Brooks County Sherrif's Office Building

Brooks County Sherrif’s Office

After a quick break with showers and pool time, we headed to Jalisco for dinner with Don. It was just as good as before, and it was nice to be able to spend some more time with Don. From there we said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel to pack. This trip has been extremely rewarding and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to experience it. I have learned many things that will stick with me for a very long time. As much as the Texas heat has tested us all, it is quite difficult to leave it behind.

Group photo outside of Jalisco's

One last selfie

~ Jordan

Olivia, Izzy, and Austin at the snow cone shop

Happy Place

Austin in a tree

Austin in a tree

Team members posing for a photo

Izzy Sandwich

Situational Awareness

Day two group photo

Day two started bright and early with breakfast at our hotel. We then accompanied Deputy Don White to the southern part of the county to conduct a search. Dr. Latham skillfully maneuvered our rental minivan Sandy off-road. There were times when we weren’t completely sure Sandy would make it, but she did! Don was provided the name and age of a missing person and the coordinates where they were last seen, so we parked as close as we could and walked to that location. Many migrants pass through the ranches following the pipelines that run north. These areas are easy to follow in one direction and are typically cleared of brush for safety and access for employees.

We performed line searches at the location of coordinates and searched the surrounding area since there are many reasons why individuals would not be found at the exact coordinate location. We ended up walking several miles searching. We found some evidence of migrant activity, such as a backpack and a couple of water bottles. However, these items did not seem like they had been left there recently. Items such as these can be important because they could indicate the presence of someone who may have passed through recently or could be in distress nearby.

We saw some snakes (to Olivia’s dismay), lizards, and plenty of bugs. It was hotter today than yesterday, with a temperature feel of 102 degrees. Although we had yesterday to adjust a bit, it was still quite draining. We are getting into a good groove as a team, even though it’s been such a short time. As a team, we set goals yesterday for things to improve upon for today and we did really well! We took lots of breaks and made sure we were all drinking a lot of water and staying safe.

Team members taking a break in the brush

Austin, Olivia, Don, Dr. Latham, and Izzy on one of our breaks

Today was enlightening in many ways. There were a few times when we easily got off track from our decided course or got caught up in groupings of mesquite trees, oak trees and scrubbrush. It is an extremely difficult environment to move through and be in for long periods of time. I cannot even fathom traveling for so long, through this terrain, with limited supplies. Throughout the day there were many circumstances where situational awareness was necessary. This pertains to things like snakes and lizards, trucks, Don and his ability to blend into the environment, and the environment itself.

Team members beginning a search

After our search, we went back to the hotel to eat and clean up. Some of us went to the pool to cool off. Afterward, we had our debriefing meeting and headed out to H-E-B for some more supplies. For dinner, we had Laredo Tacos, and it was delicious. Then we relaxed and rehydrated in our room. Olivia made friends with Dusty the stray cat outside the hotel while we did some laundry.

Olivia and Dusty the cat

Olivia and Dusty

Don partially hidden in the brush

Where’s Don?

A team member holding up a flower to the camera

Izzy showing me her flower