Bodies in Limbo: Issues in Identification and Repatriation of Migrant Remains in South Texas

Timothy Gocha, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Martha K. Spradley, Texas State University
Ryan M. Strand, South Texas Human Rights Center


This chapter traces the movement of deceased migrants in South Texas through the system of identification and repatriation. Given significant differences in funding, resources, labor power, institutional support, and time, the timing and movement of bodies through the process are highly variable. In many ways, the fragmentation and differential support for volunteer forensic scientists have produced particular systems-level nodes where bodies may wait “in limbo” for years. This chapter considers constraints faced by forensic scientists and the systemic implications of those individual constraints.