Difference Maker: At Mexican border, he puts emphasis on the basic rights of migrants

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Eduardo ‘Eddie’ Canales tries to prevent the deaths of migrants passing through the sandy, scorching terrain of South Texas. He also works with families abroad who are searching for their loved ones.

Eduardo “Eddie” Canales leans out of his truck window, peering beyond a barbed wire fence and into the sandy, scraggly brush of a remote ranch here in South Texas, about 80 miles from the US-Mexican border.

“Is that a body?” asks Ryan Strand, a missing persons investigator at Texas State University and forensic anthropology fellow assisting Mr. Canales at the South Texas Human Rights Center (STHRC).

Canales pushes his sunglasses down and his eyes lock on the mound of fabric barely visible beneath a mesquite tree. “It might be,” he says.

The two men, as well as an instructor from Duke University, climb out of the truck. The barbed wire fence divides the deserted dirt road from the private ranch – one of dozens here in Brooks County. Canales is able to step through the barrier and finds that it’s only a blanket, probably discarded by one of the thousands of mostly Central American migrants who use this corridor each year.

Canales and his colleagues didn’t come here today looking for fallen migrants. And yet part of the STHRC’s work is to help identify remains and inform worried families abroad about those who die here on their attempted journey north. The STHRC is a one-of-a-kind organization in this rural Texas county that also tries to prevent the deaths of migrants passing through this rough terrain. And that’s what this trio is doing now – driving through dusty back roads to check on water stations.

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