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INDEPENDENT LENS: Missing In Brooks County

Omar Roman and his wife Michelle post missing person notices on the streets of Falfurrias in Brooks County, Texas.
Courtesy of Molomot/Bemiss
Omar Roman and his wife Michelle post missing person notices on the streets of Falfurrias in Brooks County, Texas.

Encore Monday, Feb. 20, 2023 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV / Not available to stream on demand

More migrants go missing in rural South Texas (Brooks County) than anywhere else in the U.S — it’s estimated to be the location of 3,000 deaths since 2008. The documentary film, “Missing in Brooks County,” chronicles families whose loved ones have disappeared after crossing the Mexico border, and community activist Eddie Canales is often the last hope to try to bring those missing back home.

In an effort to deter migrants from crossing the Mexico-United States border, U.S. Border Patrol has intentionally structured a path for illegal travel across the border, but only through the most desolate and unforgiving terrain. However, this combative deterrence measure remains unsuccessful. Every year, large numbers of people continue to attempt the journey north, across the border and into the desert, often leading to fatalities.

Trailer |Missing in Brooks County

Canales runs the South Texas Human Rights Center, but he also holds an unofficial community role. As an activist private detective, he fields calls from families asking for his help, desperate to locate missing relatives. The documentary depicts two families searching for these loved ones: Homero Roman and Juan Maceda.

Longtime U.S. resident Homero Roman was deported to Mexico after a traffic stop at age 27 because he was undocumented. After struggling to adjust in an unfamiliar country, Homero eventually tried to return to the U.S. — his home of two decades — but disappeared along the journey in Brooks County. Juan Maceda, who was faced with an impossible choice between lifelong poverty in Mexico or gang affiliation, went missing after he left to travel north across the border.

With migrant deaths along the Mexico-U.S. border at an all-time high this year, the timely documentary follows Canales as he searches for answers. “Missing in Brooks County” points a humanizing lens on the law enforcement agents, human rights workers, and activists who come face to face with the life and death consequences of a broken immigration system.

"If lawmakers were to meet the families of the missing, they would think differently about the deadly policies they are creating." Canales and the families work together, in a race against time, to provide life-saving resources for migrants, despite oppositional forces trying to deter their progress.

Film Awards:


Nominated for Best Political Documentary at the 2021 Critics Choice Documentary Awards, “Missing in Brooks County” also emerged as a standout-doc in a number of festivals, winning “Best Documentary Feature” at the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival, “Best Documentary Feature Doc” at the Boston Film Festival, and “Best Southern Feature” at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.

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Directed, Filmed, and Produced by Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemiss. Produced and Edited by Jacob Bricca, A.C.E. Music by Ted Reichman. Executive Producers Abigail Disney, Gini Reticker, Steven Engel, Heidi Reavis, Jenna Helwig, Stephanie Angelides and Lois Vossen.