The bodies of 46 migrants were discovered in a tractor-trailer abandoned on a remote back road in San Antonio, the latest tragedy to befall migrants smuggled across the Mexican border to the United States. Sixteen people were taken to the hospital, four of whom were minors.
Police Chief William McManus said a city worker discovered the horrific scene after hearing a cries for help coming from the truck just before 6 p.m. on Monday. Several hours after the tragedy, the trailer was littered with body bags and the bodies of those who died were still inside.
“Families who were likely trying to find a better life,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said of the 46 people killed in the attack.
According to Nirenberg, this is “nothing short of a horrifying human tragedy”.
In recent decades, thousands of people have perished while trying to cross the border from Mexico to the United States. In 2017, ten migrants died after becoming trapped in a parked truck at a San Antonio Walmart. 19 migrants’ bodies were discovered in a truck southeast of San Antonio in 2003.
The origins of the immigrants and the length of time they were left on the side of the road were unknown at first.
Illegal border crossings have long been concentrated in South Texas. Border Patrol checkpoints are used to transport migrants to San Antonio, Texas, the nearest major city, where they disperse across the United States.
When the police arrived, they discovered a body outside the trailer with the gate partially open. According to McManus, three people were detained, but it was not clear if they had any connection to human trafficking.
Fire Chief Charles Hood said that 12 adults and four children were taken to the hospital with heat-related illnesses. He said the patients were dehydrated and hot to the touch, and there was no water in the trailer.
Their condition was critical; they had heat exhaustion and heat stroke.” “Hood stated. “In spite of the truck’s refrigeration system, the AC unit appeared to be inoperable.”
U.S. Homeland Security Investigations has been leading an investigation into the suspected migrant smuggling attempt, McManus has said.
In the early 1990s, as border enforcement increased in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, the two busiest crossing points for illegal immigrants, big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method.
To get across the border in the past, people paid small fees to mom-and-and-pop operators. Migrants were forced to pay thousands of dollars more as crossing became increasingly difficult following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.
Heat is a serious threat, especially when the temperature inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels. On Monday, the skies over San Antonio were mostly cloudy, but the mercury soared well above 100 degrees.
The border policies of the Biden administration were cited by some proponents. “I’ve been dreading this for months,” wrote Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the American Immigration Council’s policy director, in an open letter.
Migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador have been forced to take increasingly perilous routes because of the tightening of the border. On Twitter, he wrote, “Truck smuggling is a way up.”
Human smugglers and traffickers are “wicked and evil,” according to former White House immigration policy architect Stephen Miller, and the Trump administration’s approach to border security rewards their actions.
“These deaths are on Biden,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who is running for reelection, tweeted in response to the Democratic president. Because of his deadly open border policies, they’re here.
There have been more than 2 million migrant deportations since March 2020 because of a pandemic-era rule that denies them the opportunity to seek asylum, but encourages repeated attempts because there are no legal consequences for getting caught. For a variety of reasons, such as the higher cost of returning them home and strained diplomatic relations, people from other countries are less frequently subject to Title 42 authority than Americans.
As of Sept. 30, Customs and Border Protection had logged 557 deaths on the southwest border, more than double the previous year’s 247, and its highest total since it began keeping records in 1998. In most cases, they’re caused by overexposure to the sun’s heat.
As of May, the Border Patrol had carried out 14,278 “search-and-rescue missions,” more than double the previous year’s total of 12,833 while also outpacing its own 5-year high of 5,071. CBP has not released a death toll for this year.
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