This week, 51 migrants trapped in an 18-wheel semi-truck in San Antonio were left to die. They were discovered by law enforcement agents and emergency responders after being smuggled across the border by coyotes who left them in sweltering conditions to suffocate. The incident is perhaps one of the most significant tragedies to come out of the border crisis in the last two decades and has rightly raised questions on who’s to blame.
President Biden said the discovery was “horrifying and heartbreaking,” asserting that his administration “will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott laid the blame at the doorstep of the White House, however, tweeting, “These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
Mr. Abbott’s strongly worded comments amount to a harsh accusation, but they are not entirely untrue. Sen. Marsha Blackburn elicited the real problem: “there is nothing compassionate about the Biden administration’s open border policy.”
Fox News’ Martha McCallum echoed those sentiments, saying, “This is the absolute opposite of compassion … the cartels are completely in charge here so we are allowing the cartels to abuse these human beings to the point of stranding them on the side of the road with absolute disregard for life. It’s highly possible these young women were being trafficked for sex in the United States and beyond. When are we going to start calling this for what it is?”
There are many theories about what’s happening at the border. After only nine months in the fiscal year 2022, authorities have conducted more than 14,000 border searches and rescues, which supersedes the 12,833 searches and rescues from all 12 months in the last fiscal year.
Some believe the influx is the result of the administration’s incompetence. Others believe it is part of a broader conspiracy to let migrants in to flood a future Democratic voting base. Whatever the case, Ms. McCallum elicited the reality of the situation clearly as “the absolute opposite of compassion.”
Among those found deceased in the truck were at least 22 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans and two Hondurans. In each one of their cases, the deceased most likely traveled hundreds of miles just hoping for a chance to cross the border.
In other instances, however, migrants travel even further from South America through an area known as the Darien Gap. The Gap is a treacherous stretch of both marshland and mountainous rainforest that connects Colombia to Panama. It is so dense that it is the only area in the Western Hemisphere where there is a break in the Pan American Highway, a series of roads that run through the entirety of North, Central and South America.
Still, countless migrants continue to risk their lives to make the journey through the Gap and up through Central America and Mexico guided by coyotes through sophisticated makeshift mountainous pathways that are even lined with power sources fueled by generators. But just as the cartels control the border, they control most of the travel paths to the border throughout the entire Western Hemisphere.
On this issue, it does not matter what one’s politics are on immigration. Creating any incentive, real or illusory, for any human being to make this life-threatening journey is cruel and irresponsible. Those migrants that are fortunate to even reach the border by escaping abduction, death or sexual assault face life-threatening circumstances at the border for themselves — and their children.
Texas State Rep. Tony Gonzales said, “Today in San Antonio it was 102 degrees. Imagine being abandoned inside an 18-wheeler left to die …”
Ms. McCallum said, “I can’t even wrap my head around what it was like for the people who were still alive inside of this vehicle. … The idea that the White House continues to say that the border is closed is preposterous. Obviously, it is not closed, and obviously, governments on both sides have completely lost control of what’s going on at the border. The cartels are running the border.”
She could not be more right. When it comes to border security, it’s cruel to be kind.
Unfortunately, there are many more deaths — and fates perhaps worse than death that most of us cannot imagine, which go unreported. The time has come for the president of the United States to make clear that the border is closed and the best way to do that is with action, not words, by closing it. In time, the cartel’s underground railroads will lose value because people will learn they lead to a dead end.
Action, not words, is the only way to end this continuing tragedy — and an ending to this heartbreaking tale — is long overdue.