Warning: Graphic violence ahead. The Texas Tribune reports that the truck was found when a worker heard someone in distress and went to go investigate. There they discovered a partially open truck. While it appeared that some had tried to escape out of the boiling hot container, most had remained trapped. Disturbingly, the victims inside “appeared to have been sprinkled with steak seasoning, the official said, in perhaps an attempt to cover up the smell of people as the smugglers were transporting them,” the report said.
Initial reporting said 46 had been found dead, which is now believed to be 50. Sixteen were hospitalized, including four children. “Patients were hot to the touch and suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion, [San Antonio Fire Chief Charles] Hood said,” CNN reported. “There was no sign of water in the refrigerated semitractor-trailer and no visible working air conditioning unit, he said.”
”They're dehumanized from the second they make the choice to leave,” said Texas-based America’s Voice Campaign Director Mario Carrillo in response. “I find myself thinking of the life they were hoping to find here in the U.S., the hopes they had. The fear they had to overcome. Only to meet this fate.”
El Paso Times reported the rising number of migrants who are dying during desperate attempts to reach the United States earlier this month. Some have drowned in canals that are now as deep as 12 feet and dangerously swift due to irrigation season, while others have agonizingly succumbed to desert temperatures along the sector. “In May, at least 11 Haitians were killed when a boat capsized near Puerto Rico,” America’s Voice said this month. “2022 is the deadliest year at the border ever,” tweeted American Immigration Council Policy Director Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. “At least 46 dead just in this one truck. Hundreds have already sided crossing the border so far this year, including children. And with a renewed rise in boats from Haiti, mass casualty events will become more common.”
These tragedies show no sign of slowing down due to anti-asylum policies at the southern border. While President Joe Biden finally sought to end use of Stephen Miller’s racist Title 42 policy after enforcing it for more than a year, Republicans have successfully blocked his administration in court. When asylum-seekers aren’t offered a chance to ask for asylum (which is legal immigration), they are forced to take dangerous, and, as we have tragically seen, deadly risks.
“The tragedy in San Antonio tonight, the loss of life, is horrific,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro. “My prayers are with the victims, their families and the survivors being treated in our community. May God bless them. We must end Title 42 which has put desperate, oppressed people in grave danger of death.” Sen. Alex Padilla echoed the need to end the policy. “It’s time to end title 42, restore asylum, create more legal pathways for migration, & stop putting people fleeing violence and poverty in danger,” he tweeted.
“This is what happens when you shut off legal pathways to seek asylum and cross borders—it pushes people to take extreme measures, dangerous migration routes and rely on smugglers to cross borders,” tweeted Emmy-winning journalist Nadja Drost. “The consequences are horrendous, fatal and completely expected.”