The horrific deaths of 53 people seeking a better life in the back of an abandoned tractor-trailer in sweltering heat is just the latest illustration of broken immigration and climate policy. “As horrific as this is, it is not the only time. … It will not be the only time,” Doris Meissner, head of the U.S. immigration system during the Clinton administration, told the Washington Post. Authorities do not even know the nationalities of all the deceased, some of whom were from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.
“There are no names,” a spokesperson for the San Antonio archbishop told the Post. Temperatures have broke records all over the world this spring and summer, with Texas experiencing multiple heatwaves. Temperatures in the San Antonio area reached 101°F on Monday when the victims were discovered and summer is only beginning.
Advocates say deterrent policies — like Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy (on which the Supreme Court will issue a ruling today) and a policy, known as Title 42, implemented early in the pandemic to close borders but kept in place long after nearly all other measures public health experts say would actually help — have both forced desperate migrants to undertake more dangerous methods of entering the U.S.
“This is a direct result of policies such as Remain in Mexico, such as Title 42,” Haddy Gassama, national director of policy and advocacy at UndocuBlack, told Prism. “There is this idea that the southern border as we know it and access to asylum is pretty much just sealed and closed, so people are finding more dangerous ways to try to seek refuge.”
“It’s just that they try to come over here for a better life or live better, escaping gang violence and poverty,” San Antonio resident Efrain Trevino told the Texas Tribune. “And then they find death here in the United States.” (Increased death toll & general coverage: Texas Public Radio, Washington Post $, AP, New York Times $, Texas Tribune, Austin-American Statesman, Politico, TIME, CBS, Wall Street Journal $; Broader crisis: Texas Monthly, Prism Reports, USA Today, Vox, Houston Chronicle, Texas Tribune; Remain in Mexico: Border Report; Title 42: New York Times $; Global heat: Grist; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)