This week, dozens of migrants were found dead in a tractor trailer under the scorching Texas sun in what law enforcement called the deadliest human smuggling incident in the nation’s history.
By Wednesday, 53 migrants, most from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, had died after being trapped for hours in the sweltering semi-truck, which was abandoned in a desolate area on the outskirts of San Antonio, where temperatures rose into the 100s. In a particularly gruesome detail, some of those found in the truck appeared to have roasted to death dusted with steak seasoning, a possible attempt to disguise the smell of people as the smugglers crossed the border.
At least 5 of the dead were children.
President Biden called the incident “horrifying and heartbreaking” and said his administration “will continue to do everything possible to stop criminal smugglers from exploiting migrants.”
However, Biden’s policies at the border may provide a fertile environment for this kind of horrific tragedy to strike again.
“This isn’t just due to a passive stance on human smuggling and trafficking, but policy decisions they started making right out the gate,” said RJ Hauman, director of government relations and communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
Biden scrapped the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required asylum seekers to return to Mexico to await their court dates. The Biden administration has also attempted to end Title 42, the health policy that has allowed border officials to rapidly expel nearly two million illegal immigrants over COVID-19 concerns. That attempt was blocked in federal court.
As he promised during his campaign, Biden also halted construction on Trump’s border wall and scaled back deportations. The administration rarely deports any illegal immigrants from the interior of the country.
Experts say these policies encourage migrants to try their luck entering illegally and offer smugglers with dangerous practices an opportunity to take advantage.
“We say don’t come because we will not let you in, but our policies encourage the opposite,” Hauman told The Daily Wire. “Migrants around the world have taken note of this, and they’re using dangerous cartels, smugglers, and traffickers, to make the journey in. And the end result can be tragic situations.”
Meanwhile, illegal border crossings are soaring. In May, border authorities encountered more than 239,000 migrants at the southwest border, well above the less than 181,000 they encountered last May, according to Customs and Border Protection. This month, authorities expect to meet or exceed last June’s two-decade high of more than 189,000 migrant encounters.
Border Patrol has conducted more than 10,500 migrant rescue missions so far this fiscal year, on track to beat last year’s record more than 12,800 rescue missions. Earlier this month, CBP announced a new heat stress effort and said it will provide 500 agents with “heat stress kits” and heat stress training.
The Biden administration’s lenient policies at the southern border appear to have exacerbated a situation that began before Biden took office. Decades of a porous U.S.-Mexico border, overwhelmed border authorities, and previous administrations that, according to critics, encouraged weak border security contributed to the dangerous situation we see today.
A nearly identical incident involving a truck happened in 2017, when 10 migrants died after being trapped in a tractor-trailer found parked at a Walmart in San Antonio.
Back in 2003, 19 migrants including small children and very elderly people were found dead in the back of a semi truck, crammed in with about 100 other people in temperatures above 100 degrees. The driver of the truck had been paid $7,500 to drive the migrants through a Border Patrol checkpoint.
Migrants who cross the border illegally face a gauntlet of other perils besides dangerously high heat.
Just last year in March, an SUV carrying 25 people, most of whom were Mexican, crashed into a semitruck in California, killing 13 people.
Jarring photos of dead migrant children who drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande have seared themselves into the American psyche.
“This is another horrific episode in the long-running disaster brought on by the Biden administration’s refusal to enforce immigration laws,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies.
“Instead of arresting and removing illegal border crossers as the law requires, Biden continues to release most of them into the country, free to settle where they want,” Vaughan told The Daily Wire. “This creates an irresistible enticement to hire a smuggler to cross illegally, or to send their children to cross illegally. The border is not closed, nor secure as he claims; the migrants are not fools, they know that if they can get across, chances are they will be allowed to stay here indefinitely.”
Vaughan noted that this week’s truck disaster was the result of a “relatively sophisticated” smuggling operation and said that Biden appears to be “indifferent to the suffering” and “more interested in pleasing the special interests who demand an open border for the sake of cheap labor and political advantage.”