At least 46 bodies found in trailer, San Antonio officials say
At least 53 people were discovered dead, “stacked” inside a truck’s tractor-trailer near San Antonio, Texas, in what authorities believe may be the the deadliest human-trafficking incident in modern US history.
Another 16 people, including four children, were taken to local hospitals in varying conditions, according to officials. Police have taken three people into custody. The US Department of Homeland Security is investigating.
A city worker heard a cry for help from the abandoned truck before discovering the gruesome scene on Monday, according to San Antonio police chief William McManus.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden called the “tragic loss of life” in Texas “horrifying and heartbreaking” while San Antonio’s mayor Ron Nirenberg called it a “horrific human tragedy”.
Mexico foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed that the nationalities of some of the victims who died inside the triple-digit-degree truck had been identified. The victims include 22 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans and two Hondurans.
Texas Gov Greg Abbott is set to hold a press conference at the southern border on Wednesday afternoon, where his office says he plans to address the “ongoing response to President Biden’s growing border crisis”.
Kamala Harris criticises Texas governor for going ‘straight to politics’ after 53 migrants die in San Antonio
During an interview with NPR on Wednesday, the Democrat fielded questions from co-host Asma Khalid about the overturning of Roe v Wade before the pair turned to discussing matters south of the border.
“I’m sure you saw that, last night, there were at least 50 migrants who died in a tractor trailer in San Antonio, Texas,” Ms Khalid began. “I wanted to get a sense from you of – are there any new plans that you have for tackling the issue through administrative powers – through executive actions – that you all think you can’t do?”
Late Monday night, within hours of the news arriving that dozens of people were found trapped inside a sweltering trailer without signs of water or air conditioning to combat against the triple-digit-degree temperatures inside, the governor of Texas tweeted that the blame for the incident lay at the Biden administration’s feet.
Johanna Chisholm has the details.
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 04:00
What we know about the victims of the San Antonio smuggling tragedy
The two cousins returned to the tiny, hardscrabble hamlet they grew up in in southern Mexico about two weeks ago to say goodbye in what has become a right of passage for generations of migrants from their remote, impoverished mountainous region in Oaxaca state.
It would not be the first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border for Javier Flores López, now in his mid-30s, who had left Cerro Verde years ago and went to Ohio, where his father and a brother live and he worked in construction.
He was back home to see his wife and three small children briefly, said a cousin, Francisco López Hernández. This time he was returning to the United States with another cousin, José Luis Vásquez Guzmán, 32, who was going for the first time and hoped to join his oldest brother who was in Ohio as well.
While everyone knew the risks, countless people from Cerro Verde had made it safely across the U.S.-Mexico border with the help of smugglers, so it came as a shock, López Hernández said, to learn his cousins and dozens of other migrants were abandoned inside a tractor-trailer sweltering under the Texas sun.
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 03:30
EXPLAINER: Heat, humidity a perilous mix in immigrant deaths
The combination of heat and humidity would have quickly created life-threatening conditions inside the packed, un-airconditioned tractor-trailer where dozens of immigrants were found dead, an expert said.
Although it’s unclear how long the people had been inside the trailer, it likely would only take a hour or less for temperatures to climb as high as 125 degrees (51 Celsius) or hotter, said Jennifer Vanos, an assistant professor in climate and health at Arizona State University who has studied child deaths in cars.
The death toll rose to 53 on Wednesday, two days after the tractor-trailer — packed with 67 people — was found abandoned on the edge of San Antonio, marking the the nation’s deadliest smuggling episode on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 03:00
Among the tragedy, a case of mistaken identity
Haneydi Jazmin Antonio Guzmán informed friends and family that she was “fine by the grace of God” on her Facebook page.
“Do not believe anything, this is a lie, that credential [her voter ID], it was stolen a year ago,” she said after media reports named her as one of the survivors of the trailer tragedy.
Ms Antonio Guzmán, from Escuintla in Guatemala, said she was not the person who was hospitalised and clarified that her ID – found on one person in the trailer tragedy – was stolen from her a year ago.
Read the full story from Maroosha Muzaffar.
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 02:30
San Antonio funeral home assisting victims of smuggling catastrophe
A funeral home in San Antonio is stepping in to assist those who lost loved ones in Monday’s horrific incidence of human smuggling.
The Compean Funeral Home is working to help return bodies of those lost in caskets so their families can give them proper burials.
“This is only the beginning, I can tell you this. This is going to be a marathon. This is not going to be a sprint,” owner Gregory Compean told Click2Houston. “Anytime human remains are shipped out of the country, those remains have to be properly embalmed within all the rules and regulations in the state of Texas to be accepted by that other country.”
The funeral home owner said he assisted with a similar process in 2003, when 19 migrants died in a smuggling accident.
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 02:00
31-year-old from rural Mexico among survivors of trailer tragedy
Jose Luis Vasquez, a 31-year-old from an indigenous, rural mountain area in southern Mexico, is among the survivors of Monday’s human smuggling tragedy in Texas.
Mr Vasquez, who is now getting treatment in a San Antonio hospital, had recently left the Mexican Army, but hadn’t alerted his family to his travel plans.
“I guess it was the same story as always,” his uncle Aquilino Guzman told Reuters. “Looking for better opportunities.”
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 01:40
Four charged in tractor trailer deaths
Four people, including alleged truck driver Homero Zamarano Jr., have been charged in connection to the San Antonio migrant deaths, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday.
The 45-year-old is charged with one count of alien smuggling resulting in death. He is from Brownsville but based in Pasadena, Texas, according to officials. He could face up to life in prison or the death penalty.
Federal investigators said they identified Mr Zamarano by checking security footage, and that he was driving the truck in which 53 migrants ultimately were killed.
Three others were charged as well, including Christian Martinez, who allegedly discussed the smuggling plan in a call with Mr Zamarano, and Mexican nationals Juan Claudio and Juan Francisco D’Luna Mendez, who were found because their address was used to register the tractor trailer that smuggled the migrants.
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 01:36
San Antonio medical examiner debunks bizarre report about dead migrants covered in steak seasoning
The San Antonio medical examiner has clarified one of the more bizarre points related to Monday’s discovery of a tractor-trailer filled with dead and seriously injured migrants.
Initial media reports suggested those instead were covered with steak seasoning, as a way to throw off a potential inspection by search dogs or other surveillance methods at a border inspection point.
However, city officials say there’s no evidence of such a tactic on the bodies of the 53 migrants who died in the tragedy, the New York Times reports.
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 01:15
Sister of smuggling tragedy survivor speaks out: ‘I never thought this would happen’
A Guatemalan migrant living in the US says her sister was one of those who survived Monday’s tragic migrant smuggling disaster in San Antonio.
A woman only identified as Emeralda told the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre that she had last heard from her sister, a youth, via WhatsApp as the truck full of migrants was passing through Laredo Texas. At that point, her sister said the journey had been going well and she would call when she could.
Eventually, Esmeralda continued, she got a shocking message from another member of the journey.
“He told me, ‘I’m sorry, she was in the trailer,’” the woman told Prensa Libre. “I never thought that this would happen and he confirmed it to me two times.”
However, after worrying for the worst, she got another update: “They rescued your sister, and she’s fine.”
“I don’t know her state of health, how she is, I only know that she escaped,” Esmeralda said.
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 00:50
San Antonio mayor says Washington’s ‘inability’ to pass immigration reform is ‘manifesting’ tragedies
The discovery of a tractor-trailer filled with dead migrants in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday is leaving many asking who is responsible for causing such a dire situation near the border.
According to Ron Nirenberg, the mayor of San Antonio, part of the blame rests with Congress.
There hasn’t been meaningful immigration reform out of Washington in decades, and Mr Nirenberg says this stalemate is “manifesting” tragic consequences.
“Congress’ inability to reform our immigration system is causing — or is manifesting — in a lot of ways that are simply tragic,” he told CNN.
Josh Marcus30 June 2022 00:19