What We Know About the Migrant Truck Deaths

With number of fatalities at 50, it's the worst such smuggling tragedy in reported US history
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2022 10:05 AM CDT
What We Know About the Migrant Truck Deaths
Police and other first responders at the scene where the truck was found in San Antonio, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The discovery of dozens of dead migrants in a truck in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday is the deadliest such incident in US history, reports the Washington Post. As of Tuesday morning, the death toll was at 50, per the AP, but others remained hospitalized. Three suspects are in custody, though police haven't provided details about them. What we know:

  • Victims: Nearly 100 people were in the tractor-trailer, which was found parked on a remote back road, report the San Antonio Express-News and the Guardian. No victims have yet been identified, but many are believed to have come from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. "There were no signs of water in the vehicle, and no visible working AC unit on that rig," said San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, per the Post. Temperatures in San Antonio were around 100 degrees on Monday. The truck was discovered when a nearby worker heard a call for help. Children are among the victims.
  • Smuggling route: San Antonio is a "major transit point for migrants making their way from Texas to places across the United States," per the New York Times. In recent months, tens of thousands have passed through the city, say advocates. The site where the truck was found is near Interstate 35, a major truck route from the border.

  • Blame game: GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott quickly blamed the president. "These deaths are on Biden," he tweeted. "They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law." However, the Dallas Morning News reports that critics were instead pointing the finger at Abbott's own Operation Lone Star. The hard-line border security initiative is forcing more migrants into the hands of dangerous human smugglers, says the critics. The governor, running for a third term, "has made a crackdown on illegal migration a centerpiece of his campaign," per the newspaper.
  • At the border: Abbott's Democratic opponent, Beto O'Rourke, said the deaths showed the need for immigration reform. "We need urgent action—dismantle human smuggling rings and replace them with expanded avenues for legal migration that reflect our values and meet our country's needs," he tweeted. The deaths come with migrant arrests at the border at all-time highs. Customs and Border Protection made more than 239,000 arrests along the border in May, a record, per the Post.
  • Other incidents: The New York Times lists other such deadly smuggling incidents in the US, including one with 10 fatalities in San Antonio in 2017 and another with 17 fatalities in Victoria, Texas, in 2003. Smuggling cases with more fatalities have been reported outside the US, including the discovery of 71 bodies inside a truck in Austria in 2015, per KENS 5.
(More migrants stories.)

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