Houston Matters

Change to Death Records Law Aims to Help Families of Immigrants

Legislation signed into law in June makes death records of unidentified people in Texas public information after a year. Previously, all death records were confidential for 25 years. The change only applies to unidentified remains. Human rights advocates say the measure is a good start to addressing a bigger issue, especially for border counties in […]

Legislation signed into law in June makes death records of unidentified people in Texas public information after a year. Previously, all death records were confidential for 25 years. The change only applies to unidentified remains.

Human rights advocates say the measure is a good start to addressing a bigger issue, especially for border counties in the state. Some of the migrants who attempt to cross illegally into the U.S. die during their journey, and without any way of identifying their remains, their families are left without answers.

Advocates say public death records of these unidentified remains will help locate burial sites of the unidentified for exhumation and the taking of DNA samples.

We talk with Dr. Christine Kovic, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Cross Cultural Studies at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, about the issues that prompted the new law, how it could help give closure to Houston families searching for their lost loved ones and how it’ll help researchers locate and document where these unidentified remains are buried for an official record.

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