Limited DNA Samples Delay Efforts to Identify Remains

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WESLACO – Forensic investigators and advocacy groups said efforts to identify remains of immigrants found along the Texas-Mexico border remain slow.

They said the reason is the pool of potential DNA samples to make comparisons remains small.

DNA taken from the immigrants ends up in a FBI database. But samples from potential family members not collected by law enforcement are denied access to the FBI database.

Kate Spradley, from Texas State University, said her effort to identify hundreds of remains found four years ago in South Texas would be quicker if the collection of family DNA got access to the FBI database.

Spradley is mostly working to identify remains in Brooks County but is also looking at cases from other counties, include Starr County.

Advocacy groups said the issue has gone unresolved for years. The FBI is not commenting on the concerns.

More than 2,900 immigrants have died crossing the border since 1998. It’s unclear how many remains are unidentified. 


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