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51 migrants die after trailer abandoned in San Antonio heat – The Denver Post – Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado 2022-06-28 19:22:28 –

ERIC GAY, PAUL J. WEBER, ELLIOT SPAGAT

San Antonio (AP) — Desperate immigrants from Mexico and Central America began a tough job on Tuesday to identify 51 people who died after being abandoned in a tractor trailer without air conditioning in hot Texas. The family desperately sought the words of their loved ones.

Claiming the lives of migrants smuggled across the border from Mexico was the most deadly tragedy.

The truck driver and two others were arrested, Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar told The Associated Press.

He said the truck had passed a border patrol checkpoint northeast of Laredo, Texas, on Interstate 35. When I passed the checkpoint, I didn’t know if immigrants were in the truck.

Investigators tracked the truck’s registration to San Antonio’s residence and detained two men from Mexico for possessing weapons, according to a criminal accusation filed by a US law firm. The complaint did not make any specific claims related to death.

According to police chief William McManus, the body was found Monday afternoon in the suburbs of San Antonio when a truck parked on a lonely backstreet heard a cry for help. A few hours later, the body bag was unfolded on the ground.

More than 12 people, including four children, whose bodies get hot to the touch, were taken to the hospital. He said most of the dead were men.

According to Craig Lullaby, a special agent for homeland security investigations in San Antonio, the number of deaths from smuggling attempts in the United States was the highest ever.

“This is a horror we have never experienced,” said Mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nielenberg. “And it’s sadly a preventable tragedy.”

President Joe Biden called the dead “terrifying and tragic.”

“It’s shameful to exploit vulnerable individuals for profit, like the political grandeur of tragedy. My administration is that human smugglers and traffickers enter the United States between places of entry. We will continue to do everything we can to prevent the use of those who are trying, “Biden said in a statement.

Authorities did not know the homeland of all migrants, nor did they know how long they were abandoned by the side of the road.

By Tuesday afternoon, coroners may have identified 34 of the victims, Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores said.

According to Ruben Minutti, Consul General of Mexico in San Antonio, 27 of the dead are believed to be from Mexico based on the documents they carried. He said some survivors were in jeopardy of injuries such as brain damage and internal bleeding.

Roberto Velasco Alvarez, head of the North American division of Mexico’s foreign affairs division, said on Twitter that at least seven of the dead came from Guatemala and two from Honduras. According to people familiar with the matter, about 30 people contacted the Mexican Consulate in search of a loved one.

Attempts to cross the US border from Mexico have claimed the lives of thousands in both countries in recent decades.

US border authorities are blocking immigrants more often at the southern border than at any point in at least 20 years. Immigration stopped about 240,000 times in May, an increase of one-third from a year ago.

Comparisons with pre-pandemic levels are complex, as migrants exiled under public health authorities known as Title 42 do not face legal implications and encourage repeated attempts. According to officials, 25% of May encounters were with people who were suspended at least once in the previous year.

South Texas has long been the busiest area of ​​illegal border crossings. According to Lullaby, US officials find trucks with immigrants “quite close” every day.

Immigrants typically cross borders into tractor trailers, pay $ 8,000 to $ 10,000 to be transported to San Antonio, where they switch to smaller cars for final destinations throughout the United States.

According to Lullaby, the situation is very different, such as how much water passengers get and whether they are allowed to carry their cell phones.

Officials believe the truck found on Monday had mechanical problems when it was left next to a railroad track in San Antonio surrounded by a car scrapyard hitting a busy freeway. Said.

San Antonio has become a recurring scene of tragedy and despair involving semi-trailer immigrants in recent years.

Ten immigrants died in 2017 after being trapped in a truck parked in Wal-Mart, San Antonio. In 2003, the bodies of 19 migrants were found on a sultry truck southeast of the city. In 2018, the trailer revealed that more than 50 migrants were alive. It was driven by a man who paid $ 3,000 and was sentenced to five years or more in prison.

Other tragedy occurred long before immigrants arrived in the United States. More than 50 people were killed in December when a semi-trailer fell on a highway in southern Mexico. In October, Mexican officials reported finding 652 migrants packed in six trailers stopped at a military checkpoint near the border.

Some of the 16 people who were taken to the hospital for fever-related illness remained in critical condition on Tuesday.

People taken to the hospital were hot to the touch, dehydrated, and no water was found on the trailer, said Fire Chief Charles Hood.

“They were suffering from heat stroke and fatigue,” Hood said. “It was a refrigerated tractor trailer, but the rig had no visible working AC unit.”

The temperature in San Antonio on Monday approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

Big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in US border security between San Diego, Texas and El Paso.

Before that, people paid a small fee to cross the mostly unprotected borders. After the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, crossing became so difficult that immigrants had to go through more dangerous terrain and pay thousands of dollars.

Some supporters have drawn a link to the Biden administration’s border policy. Aaron Reichlin Melnick, head of policy for the American Immigration Council, wrote that he was afraid of such a tragedy for months.

“The borders of migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are as tightly closed as they are today, and people are being driven to increasingly dangerous routes,” he wrote on Twitter.

Immigrants, primarily from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, have been banished more than two million times since March 2020 under pandemic-era rules denying opportunities to seek asylum. The Biden administration planned to end the policy, but a federal judge in Louisiana blocked the move in May.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 557 deaths on the southwestern border in the 12 months to September 30, more than double the 247 deaths of the previous year, since it began tracking in 1998. It was the best. Most were related to heat exposure.

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Spagat reported from San Diego. Contributed by Associated Press reporter Acacia Coronado of Austin, Ken Miller of Oklahoma City, and Terry Wallace of Dallas.

51 migrants die after trailer abandoned in San Antonio heat – The Denver Post Source link 51 migrants die after trailer abandoned in San Antonio heat – The Denver Post

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