Immigrant tragedies will not be forgotten. Starting with death lines at the Mediterranean gate in Greece, going through death routes to reach Libya, and drowning in the sea in the hope of reaching Italy or any other outlet leading to the European paradise. Refugees fled poverty, war, and starvation in search of a better life.
This time, the victims were crossing the border from Mexico to Texas in the US. A complex case reappeared in public after dozens of illegal immigrants killed, 2 weeks ago, choking inside a truck in Texas. 51 migrants died after being abandoned in a sweltering tractor-trailer in Texas in what may be the deadliest human-smuggling incident in U.S. history. The dead include at least 27 Mexican nationals, seven Guatemalans and two Honduras, Mexican officials said.
The trailer was discovered near a stretch of railroad tracks in an industrial section of San Antonio after a worker heard a cry for help, the San Antonio Police Chief said. The worker opened the doors, found “a number of deceased individuals inside” and called police.
The death count was the highest ever from a smuggling attempt in the United States, according to Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio. Migrants typically pay $8,000 to $10,000 to be taken across the border and loaded into a tractor-trailer and driven to San Antonio, where they transfer to smaller vehicles for their final destinations across the United States.
The incident, which is considered one of the “most egregious” incidents against illegal immigrants, constituted a fundamental challenge facing President Joe Biden’s administration. The migrant trail has grown increasingly perilous in recent decades, and the number of migrants relying on smugglers has exploded. Deadly accidents are common.
Migrants face death at Mexico-US borders
San Antonio has been a recurring scene of tragedy and desperation in recent years involving migrants in semi-trailers. 650 people died while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border last year, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration.
More than 50 migrants were found alive in a trailer in 2018, driven by a man who said he was to be paid $3,000 and was sentenced to more than five years in prison. Ten migrants died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck parked at a San Antonio Walmart. In 2003, the bodies of 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of the city.
Title 42 expulsion
The tragedy fuelled debate over illegal immigration, pushing migrant advocates renewed calls for more legal pathways to enter the US as well as harsher punishment for human traffickers on both sides of the border.
In an effort to scale up refugee numbers, Biden retained his predecessor Trump’s emergency policy to expel all illegal immigrants seeking entry, bypassing normal immigration laws.
The policy – known as “Title 42” – sparked controversy last September, when the Biden administration used it to deport nearly 4 thousand migrants detained in the border city of Del Rio, Texas, in a decision criticized by civil rights groups, asserting that it violated current US asylum laws.
Global Rights Watch (GRW) has particularly pointed to Title 42, a COVID-19 health rule that allows US officials to turn away asylum seekers at the US border.
GRW pointed out that the inability to apply for asylum at legal points of entry has forced more people to attempt the dangerous land and water crossings into the US.