SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Police Department is strongly defending itself after being publicly criticized by the immigrant advocacy group RAICES Sunday afternoon.
RAICES issued a statement in the wake of a horrific human trafficking case in which nine people were found dead in an 18-wheeler parked at a southwest side Walmart early Sunday morning. Thirty other people who were trapped in the back of the trailer were rescued and taken to area hospitals suffering from dehydration and exhaustion.
THE WHOLE STORY:
- Authorities identify suspect in smuggling case that killed 9
- Death toll climbs to 9 in human trafficking case: Here's what we know
- 'Tragedy came to our doorstep': Officials speak out on fatal human trafficking crime
- Trafficking victims found in sweltering trailer suffered 'unbearable' heat
RAICES decried what it saw as a lack of compassion from the police department in their handling of the case.
“RAICES also condemns the actions of the San Antonio Police Department who called ICE to respond,” the group wrote. “Instead of offering a humanitarian response, SAPD called an enforcement agency with its own track record of causing migrant deaths and criminalizing, detaining, and deporting vulnerable populations. We resist all attempts to dehumanize the survivors of this tragedy. RAICES offers our legal services to all of the survivors as they seek justice and protect themselves against all attempts to criminalize, detain and deport them. This morning’s events are a harsh reminder that the language of ‘border security,’ ‘national security,’ and collaboration between local police and ICE does not make us safer or more secure.”
In response, San Antonio police spokesman Sgt. Jesse Salame vehemently denied the accusations levied against them
“The care and welfare of the victims was our top priority,” he wrote. SAPD Officers administered first aid, helped rescue those that were still inside the trailer, and cleared the parking lot so that Airlife could quickly land and transport those with the most serious injuries. DHS is the lead investigative agency for all smuggling cases. Now is not the time to point fingers and politicize the tragic loss of human life. We will continue to do our part to ensure all people in our city are protected, regardless of their citizenship status."
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