Authorities on Monday discovered an unspeakable tragedy in San Antonio, Texas, where the bodies of 50 migrants were found in an abandoned tractor-trailer.
Just before 6 p.m. local time, a worker in a nearby building heard a cry for help. Police Chief Bill McManus told a news conference Monday evening that the worker found the trailer doors partially open and saw dead bodies inside.
McManus confirmed that three people are in custody, though there was no immediate word on their specific involvement in the horrific incident. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said they are working with local police investigating an “alleged human smuggling event.”
A fire department official said there were no signs of water in the trailer, which was left next to railroad tracks on the south side of the city. Rescue workers Monday evening had body bags lined up along the remote road as more remained inside.
Sixteen people, including four children, were taken to hospitals for treatment of heat stroke and dehydration. None of the 50 fatalities are said to be children.
Temperatures in the area hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit Monday afternoon. The tractor-trailer where the victims were found was built to be refrigerated, but Fire Chief Charles Hood said “there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.”
Hood reported the patients freed from the trailer were “hot to the touch.”
Crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is fraught with danger for migrants, and many have perished making the trek. But Monday’s discovery brings a new level of tragedy to the border crisis.
Both sides of the immigration issue lashed out at the Biden administration for the tragedy, but for starkly different reasons. The American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick blamed what he called the “tightly shut border” for migrants pursuing more dangerous routes into the U.S.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blamed the deaths on the White House’s “deadly open border policies.” Abbott cited what he said is the administration’s “refusal to enforce the law.”
Tens of thousands of migrants would not make risky attempts at border crossings every month if there was virtually no chance of success. As long as the border, which is hardly “tightly shut,” remains a free-for-all, tragedies are certain to continue.