Brooks County, Texas, is a sleepy rural county with more than its share of poverty. You’d never suspect it was a hotbed of activity, but it is. Federal law enforcement there boasts the nation’s busiest Border Patrol checkpoint. It leads the nation in apprehension of undocumented migrants. It seizes illegal drugs at a record pace. National news outlets focus on little Falfurrias often for its humanitarian and political drama.
The United States Border Patrol checkpoint lies along highway 281, which leads directly from the U.S.-Mexico border. Roughly 30,000 vehicles pass through the checkpoint every day. Vehicles are temporarily stopped while agents observe and ask questions of those passing through each day. Meanwhile, “drug dogs” sniff the exterior of each vehicle. It’s no wonder those millions of vehicles generate a great number of arrests.
Drug seizures and drug arrests are so common tiny Falfurrias is also home to its very own federal detention facility.
Falfurrias, the county seat of Brooks County, has made national news too many times to count. Unfortunately, it’s most noteworthy for a particularly tragic circumstance: it’s been described as “ground zero” for migrant deaths.
This single county has been the final resting place for over 600 immigrants since 2009. Sometimes, it takes years to find the corpses. Many people die on their desperate journey through the scorching, unforgiving land covered in thorny brush. Many remain unidentified, so many, in fact, college students volunteer to help deal with the daunting problem. For cash-strapped Brooks County, the problem is a financial liability, too.
Along with the humanitarian crisis comes with the reality of criminal prosecution. Illegal entry, illegal re-entry, human trafficking, smuggling, cartel activity, drug cases, and a host of state-level felony and misdemeanor cases arise.
For years, the national debate about illegal immigration and what to do and not to do about it plays out every day in Brooks County. Sometimes, there is no choice but to deal with matters in court.
I’ve practiced law in Brooks County for well over 20 years. I enjoy good relationships with almost everyone who participates in the legal process there. I’m always pleased to make the trip to Brooks County, even amongst the drama. The people are friendly and polite. They don’t seem to be affected by the national attention.
I regularly associate with lawyers to maximize my effectiveness and improve the circumstances of people who get into trouble or otherwise need help. Sometimes, it means criminal cases. Sometimes, people need help with immigration law. Even if I can’t personally help, I try to make sure the people who contact me are pointed in a better direction.