Authorities said they found 50 dead migrants in the back of a truck trailer in San Antonio, Texas, in one of the worst border tragedies in history.
Another 16 truck occupants were rushed to the hospital, including four children, city authorities said in a press conference Monday night.
“This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.
The fatalities are part of a surging death toll from the border chaos that has erupted under President Biden, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the president is to be blamed.
“These deaths are on Biden,” Mr. Abbott tweeted. “They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
The Biden administration has overseen the worst border numbers on record, with May marking a new high in apprehensions.
More worrying, less than half were expelled back to Mexico. The rest were either immediately released at the border or turned over to federal agencies that were expected to release most of them deeper into the country.
That success rate is enticing more to come, analysts said.
Some migrants, particularly from far afield countries, want to get caught, knowing their chances of release are high. Those from Mexico and Central America, though, have lower chances of being released, so they try to avoid detection.
The nationalities of the dead migrants in San Antonio weren’t revealed, but the city is a major waypoint for those who don’t want to be caught.
Smugglers help them swim or raft the Rio Grande, then put them into stash houses on the U.S. side while trying to figure out the best time to bring them deeper into the U.S., hoping to get by the Border Patrol’s highway checkpoints.
More people coming also means more people dying.
Last year set a record for deaths recorded by Customs and Border Protection, and the pace appears to be just as torrid this year, with the scorching summer months still ahead.
Trucks can be packed with more than 100 migrants, and drivers can make tens of thousands of dollars per load.
Authorities said they were alerted to the truck Monday after someone heard a cry for help coming from inside the truck.
When police arrived, they found bodies stacked inside and people unconscious. All of them were suffering from heat-related conditions. Temperatures topped 100 degrees in San Antonio on Monday.
It’s not clear how many other migrants may have been in the truck but fled before police arrived.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has taken over the investigation.