Local organization Catholic Charities is providing assistance to the 12 migrants still alive and their families following the discovery of the bodies of more than 50 deceased migrants in an abandoned tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas.
According to Antonio Fernandez, CEO of Catholic Charities San Antonio, they ask for prayers as they provide food, shelter and other necessities to the families of deceased migrants and those who are still alive. According to Fernandez, many survivors are still receiving medical attention and “their health is very fragile”.
Although the June 27 incident is considered the largest mass death of southern border migrants in modern times, their manner of crossing is not unknown.
Similar events happened in San Antonio in 2017, when 10 migrants perished in a tractor-trailer cooking in a burning Wal-Mart parking lot.
“We deal with immigrants every day, thousands of people every week. This is the fourth truck accident where people have lost their lives,” Fernandez lamented.
The migrants were discovered dead on June 27 in the evening in an abandoned tractor-trailer that was cooking in the Texas town of San Antonio. According to NPR, the official death toll has risen to 53; the deceased include 22 Mexicans, 7 Guatemalans and 2 Hondurans; the identity of the other victims has not yet been made public.
In order to be able to cover travel costs for surviving migrants and their families, Fernandez said Catholic Charities has been in contact with consulates in the migrants’ countries of origin.
On June 30, at 7 p.m., at the Cathedral of San Fernando, the Archbishop of San Antonio Gustavo Garca-Siller and the auxiliary bishops Michael Boulette and Gary Janak will preside over a memorial mass for migrants. According to spokesman Jordan McMorrough, the liturgy will include a procession from the cathedral’s main square, a special cross, candles and flags representing the nations of the deceased as well as survivors.
The people in the trailer most likely crossed the border on foot before congregating in Laredo to be loaded onto a truck, according to experts quoted by NPR. According to reports, the truck driver and three other people responsible for migrant smuggling have been arrested.
According to Rebecca Solloa, executive director of Laredo Catholic Charities, when other nearby border crossings are congested, the Laredo border crossing is the busiest. She said that over the past week, the number of migrants in need of help at the migrant shelter they run in Laredo has risen from around 50 to 150 a day.
According to Solloa, they give migrants what they need to prepare them to travel to their families who are in other parts of the American interior. The average length of stay of migrants in their shelter is 8 to 24 hours, and the majority of the migrants they currently assist come from Cuba, Nicaragua, Colombia and Venezuela.
She said their top priorities right now are making sure they have enough food, clothing and water to support the migrants in the sweltering heat.
As many of the deceased migrants likely had families in their home countries who depended on them, Solloa also urged praying for them. According to her, the incident shows how Title 42, which during the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the rejection of many migrants, has led to desperation among migrants, motivating them to attempt riskier crossings.
Although Title 42 is still in effect, the Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that the Biden administration can end the Trump administration’s “stay in Mexico” policy, also known as the protection protocols. migrants. Since its implementation in 2019, the policy has forced asylum seekers to wait in danger in Mexico while their case is processed through US immigration courts.
In Biden v. Texas, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) had submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of the administration’s decision to end the program. The move was welcomed in a statement released Thursday by Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and head of the U.S. bishops’ committee on migration.
“Today’s decision recognizes and preserves the executive’s ability to reverse unsustainable, illegal and immoral policies, regardless of who holds the office. The implementation of [Migrant Protection Protocols] has obstructed due process and subjected people to the very dangers that forced them to seek refuge in the United States in the first place. With this decision, we salute the end of the MPP,” Dorsonville wrote.
“Ours is both a nation of laws and a beacon of hope for many around the world. It should inspire us to work for just and humane responses to forced migration, not adopt the failed policies of the past. As Pope Francis has warned, we cannot limit ourselves to building “walls of fear” and supporting “vetoes dictated by nationalist interests” if we are to make meaningful progress in addressing these challenges.”
“While this decision helps pave the way, it does not solve the current challenges on our country’s southwestern border. We remain committed to supporting immigration policies that produce more durable solutions, respect the God-given dignity of migrants, and better reflect Christ’s call to welcome the stranger.