SAN ANTONIO – A tragedy in South Texas has put this community in the international spotlight again.
Forty-six people were found dead in a big rig trailer on San Antonio’s southwest side on Monday evening.
Local officials said the victims were piled into a trailer on the side of a secluded road and discovered by a nearby worker, who heard cries for help.
Authorities believe they died of asphyxiation, heat stroke and exhaustion, without water in the sweltering heat.
First responders transported 16 survivors to local hospitals.
The group is believed to have been a group of migrants from Latin America.
Elected officials and politicians sent messages on social media, in press conferences and news releases.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg
“It’s tragic,” Nirenberg said from an on-scene press conference. “They had families... and were likely trying to find a better life. It’s nothing short of a horrific human tragedy.”
“We hope that those responsible for putting these people through such inhumane conditions are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Nirenberg said.
“Migrants seeking asylum should always be treated as a humanitarian crisis, but this evening we’re facing a horrific human tragedy. More than 40 hopeful lives were lost. I urge you to think compassionately, pray for the deceased, the ailing, and their families at this moment,” Nirenberg wrote on Twitter.
Gov. Greg Abbott
“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,” the governor wrote on Twitter before local officials briefed the media with details.
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio
“This is another example of Gov. Abbott’s failed policies. He has now overseen the deadliest school shooting in Texas history and the largest Migrant death in Texas history--all while telling us he’s got it all under control. Another avoidable tragedy. More avoidable deaths. It is tragic and frustrating,” Gutierrez told KSAT.
Congressman Joaquin Castro
“The tragedy in San Antonio tonight, the loss of life, is horrific. My prayers are with the victims, their families and the survivors being treated in our community. May God bless them. We must end Title 42 which has put desperate, oppressed people in grave danger of death.
“Title 42 has created more business, repeat business, for human smugglers.
In response to Abbott’s tweet that stated “these deaths are on Biden,” Castro tweeted: “46 people die and you go straight to right wing talk points. Worthless.”
I just spoke to DHS Secretary Mayorkas about the 46 people who died tonight in San Antonio, most likely the victims of merciless human smugglers. DHS (HSI) is working to alert their families, find everyone responsible for this crime and investigate exactly what happened.— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) June 28, 2022
Congressman Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio
“Yesterday, nearly 50 migrants were found deceased inside an overheated semitruck in San Antonio. This tragic account is yet another example of the ruthlessness that human smugglers display as they seek to profit off their victims. Unfortunately, situations like these are common along the Texas border, and will likely continue until enforcement efforts against criminal operations are scaled up.
“More needs to be done to disincentivize migrants from making the trek to our southern border. Currently, we’re on a path to exceed record breaking numbers of migrant deaths and recuses. These rescues often involve women and children and occur in extreme weather conditions or in dangerous terrains such as deserts and rivers.
“This is the devastating reality of the crisis at our southern border. Current open-border policies are anything but compassionate. Instead, they have encouraged hundreds of thousands of migrants to rely on a ruthless smuggling industry run by cartels.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
“I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of life today and am praying for those still fighting for their lives. Far too many lives have been lost as individuals – including families, women, and children – take this dangerous journey.
“ICE has initiated an investigation with the support of @SATXPolice and @CBP. Human smugglers are callous individuals who have no regard for the vulnerable people they exploit and endanger in order to make a profit.
“We will work alongside our partners to hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable and continue to take action to disrupt smuggling networks.”
I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of life today and am praying for those still fighting for their lives. Far too many lives have been lost as individuals – including families, women, and children – take this dangerous journey.— Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (@SecMayorkas) June 28, 2022
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke
“This is devastating. Our thoughts go out to the families of those who lost their lives in San Antonio today.
“We need urgent action — dismantle human smuggling rings and replace them with expanded avenues for legal migration that reflect our values and meet our country’s needs.”
Congressman Henry Cuellar
“This is an absolute tragedy. 47 are now dead after driving through the Laredo checkpoint. We must bring an end to these senseless deaths and hold those responsible accountable. Let us pray for the families of the deceased. May they Rest In Peace.”
This is an absolute tragedy. 47 are now dead after driving through the Laredo checkpoint.— Rep. Henry Cuellar (@RepCuellar) June 28, 2022
We must bring an end to these senseless deaths and hold those responsible accountable.
Let us pray for the families of the deceased. May they Rest In Peace. https://t.co/HpVhmqruw0
State Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio
“I’m heartbroken at the estimated 46 lives lost, & 16 people including 4 children at hospitals tonight. Seeking asylum & chance at a better life shouldn’t lead to death. Texas has made it near impossible to seek asylum, leading to desperation & unthinkable tragedies like this one.”
I’m heartbroken at the estimated 46 lives lost, & 16 people including 4 children at hospitals tonight. Seeking asylum & chance at a better life shouldn’t lead to death. Texas has made it near impossible to seek asylum, leading to desperation & unthinkable tragedies like this one. https://t.co/wluGtalGqw— José Menéndez (@Menendez4Texas) June 28, 2022