‘We’ve got work to do’: Bexar County sheriff attends virtual meeting with White House officials to address humanitarian crisis

“Fifty-three people died in my county last week and that’s extremely heartbreaking and extremely frustrating, and I’m not just gonna sit quietly by,” the sheriff said.

Pictured is Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar spoke to White House officials on Wednesday after penning a letter asking for more resources and action following the migrant tragedy in San Antonio that claimed 53 lives.

Authorities found dozens of bodies and people with heat-related illnesses in a tractor-trailer on Quintana Road last week — an incident that’s being deemed the largest mass casualty event in San Antonio.

“Fifty-three people died in my county last week and that’s extremely heartbreaking and extremely frustrating, and I’m not just gonna sit quietly by,” Salazar said in a video interview.

Salazar’s most recent letter to the White House, sent last Tuesday, is one of three he says he has written since last August. He is asking for more assistance in fighting those that “profit off the misery of smuggling victims” and also discussed possible solutions.

During the half-hour-long Zoom meeting Salazar had with White House officials, he said he expressed frustration regarding the Biden administration’s inaction on the migrant crisis in a respectful manner but added that “it needed to be said.”

Salazar said the current policies in place for keeping migrants out of the country are pushing them to turn to cartels to get smuggled into the states.

“All we’re doing is enriching the cartels. We’re creating a situation where all they have to do is provide a service. They’ve got folks that are willing to pay handsomely, $5,000 - $10,000 per person to be smuggled across,” Salazar said. “As Texas law enforcement... we need to circle up. Realize that what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working.”

During the meeting, Salazar said he isn’t in support of opening the borders, but he is in support of “creating a front door” for those who want to come into the states, work, make a livable income and provide a better life for themselves and their families.

“... With proper vetting, let’s get them in a situation where they can work,” Salazar said. “Let them pay their fair share of taxes... If they prove that they are unable to comply with what is being asked of them, then they don’t stay.”

“The majority of these people are just here to look for a better life, and they want to work for it,” he added.

Salazar said he is pushing for White House officials to visit San Antonio and the border to witness the happenings firsthand, and to meet with urban county sheriffs. It’s unknown if this will happen, but the sheriff said officials will be in touch again as the process moves forward.

You can read Salazar’s most recent letter to President Joe Biden below.

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About the Author:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.