Activists blame San Antonio tractor-trailer tragedy on broken U.S. immigration system

Immigrant-rights groups accused GOP lawmakers of weaponizing immigration policy and called on both parties to fix the nation's flawed system.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and other city officials take questions about the migrant deaths during a Monday night press briefing. - Facebook Screen Capture / San Antonio Police Department
Facebook Screen Capture / San Antonio Police Department
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and other city officials take questions about the migrant deaths during a Monday night press briefing.
Immigrant-rights groups blamed the United States' broken immigration system for the deaths of 50 migrants trapped in a tractor-trailer in Southwest San Antonio.

The tragic discovery, made Monday evening, is being described as one of the worst instances of migration suffocation in recent history and the worst mass-casualty event during San Antonio's modern era.

"Responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of Gov. Greg Abbott, Rep. Tony Gonzales, Sen. Ted Cruz and their cronies whose political stunts exploit immigrants for political gain and whose failure in leadership leaves communities like ours reeling from avoidable tragedies like this one," the San Antonio-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) said in a press release.

RAICES blamed Republican lawmakers for "weaponizing this tragedy to codify the racist Title 42 policy," a pandemic-era order implemented by the Trump administration to hasten expulsion of migrants. Title 42's ongoing enforcement will lead to more tragedies like the one in San Antonio, the group added.

Of the migrants discovered in the trailer, 22 have been identified as Mexican nationals, while seven are from Guatemala and two are from Honduras, all presumably seeking a better life in the United States, according to the Express-News.

"Like many before them, these community members, including children, packed all their belongings into whatever they could carry and walked into the unknown seeking security and safety," said Monica Ramirez, the founder and president of non-profit Justice for Migrant Women, in a press release. "They trusted the people shuttling them into a tractor-trailer like cattle without water more than they trusted the U.S. government to provide a clear path to citizenship. They faced exploitation and ultimately death because there were no safe options."

Domingo Garcia, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), called upon both Republicans and Democrats to work together on immigration reform to prevent further human-smuggling tragedies.

"Both Democrats and Republicans need to work together on a new bipartisan immigration bill," Garcia said in a release. "The reforms must allow us to bring in legal guest workers and open legal avenues for people to come in to help our economy. These steps will prevent these refugees and immigrants from being thrown into the hands of human smugglers and coyotes who are willing to risk the lives of others for a dollar, as well as American employers who want cheap labor that can be exploited."

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