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Parts of Texas overwhelmed by migrant deaths

Funeral homes and county morgues are filled to overflowing with bodies of migrants who died trying to cross the border.

MAVERICK COUNTY, Texas — New York City is preparing for more busloads of migrants sent there by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Many are seeking asylum to escape dangerous conditions in their home countries. But the journey to cross the border is so treacherous that many men, women and children don't survive.

In fact, this could be one of the deadliest years for people attempting the border crossing in history.

A 22-year-old Mexican construction worker crossed into Texas with his brother last week, authorities say.

"They've been walking for three days without any food,” said Dr. Corinne Stern.

The patches on his body show signs paramedics tried to save his life.

Migrants have tried entering the US southern border a record-breaking nearly two million times since October.

And this man's tragic story is far from unique, Webb County Medical Examiner Dr. Corrine Stern says. This year is on pace to be the deadliest year for migrants crossing into this region of Texas in recent memory.

"I'm seeing an extreme increase in the number of border crossing deaths compared to other years,” said Dr. Stern.

So much so, Stern recently did something she says she has never done in her 20-year career.

She told officials in the 11 border counties she serves, that her office is at capacity.

"And so we're asking them to store them at their funeral homes until we have the space available,” said Dr. Stern.

And in Maverick County, one of the deadliest counties, says Stern, a funeral home there tells CNN, they're at capacity too and with the medical examiner not taking the deceased, they are now burying unidentified migrants.

In the back of the county cemetery there are 16 fresh graves. There were no funerals, no family, no flowers. All the graves are marked with partial crosses made out of PVC piping. All of these are migrant Jane and John Does, except for one. There is a baby John Doe.

Stern says she has 260 deceased migrants in her custody, the majority died this year from drowning or hypothermia and are pending identification.

Despite the dangers, Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmurber says the arrival of migrants is not stopping and neither are the deaths.

He showed us post-mortem photos, some too graphic not to completely blur, including of a child of just some of the migrant deaths in the past seven months.

The sheriff said they find bodies in one crossing area daily.

He showed us where a three-year-old drowned Monday.

"I was informed that he was taken out, gave him CPR but then he died,” said Sheriff Schmurber:

Tuesday, our cameras were there, as another body was recovered from the Rio Grande, this time a man.

Yards away, dozens of migrants who had just crossed the river waited for Border Patrol, including two Cuban women in their 20s who did not want to be identified for fear it could impact their immigration cases.

One woman said that it was a tough decision she had to make as a mother for the future of her daughter.

Most likely, the same hopes and dreams that many had before their lives were cut short.

One man was fortunate not to die alone.

"His brother stayed behind and was with him at the time Border Patrol found him,” said Dr. Stern. 

Which means, unlike the hundreds of other unidentified migrants in her custody, he will reunite with his family soon, says Stern.

The Medical Examiner has this message for anyone thinking about crossing the border.

"Politics aside...All these deaths are ruled an accident. An accident by definition is preventable. 100%. Stay home,” said Dr. Stern.

Some of the people who survive the border crossing are being bused to New York City from Texas.

The city's immigrant affairs office estimates that about 6,000 asylum seekers have arrived there from border states since May.

***Warning. This item contains material that some viewers may find disturbing due to the graphic nature.  

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