Congressman Castro Leads Call for DHS to Protect Survivors of San Antonio Human Smuggling Tragedy from Deportation
SAN ANTONIO – This week, Congressman Castro (TX-20) led a group of 22 members of Congress in a letter urging Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to extend humanitarian considerations to the victims of the June 27, 2022 human smuggling tragedy in San Antonio. Specifically, the letter asks Mayorkas to protect the survivors from deportation, expedite humanitarian visa consideration for those who apply, and provide humanitarian parole to allow the families of the victims to visit survivors and collect the bodies of the dead.
“As the remaining survivors focus on their recovery at San Antonio hospitals, they should not be worried about their future in the United States,” the members wrote.
On July 6, 2022, the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office released the identities of 47 migrants who lost their lives in the tragedy. The victims range from 13 to 55 years old, and include people from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. Eleven survivors are being treated or have already been released from San Antonio-area hospitals.
Additional signers of the letter include Reps. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Luis Correa (CA-46), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Grace Meng (NY-06), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Richie Torres (NY-15), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Al Green (TX-09), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), and Raul Ruiz (CA-36).
The full letter can be viewed here or below.
Dear Secretary Mayorkas,
We appreciate you and your agency’s work in investigating the horrific human smuggling incident in San Antonio that left 53 migrants dead. While there is still much that local officials, organizations, and the public need to know to help and support the survivors, we know this information will come in due time. However, there are important immediate steps that the Department of Homeland Security (Department) can do to protect the surviving migrants as well as the victims’ families.
We urgently request that you exercise prosecutorial discretion to ensure that the surviving migrants are not deported or sent to a detention facility. We also urge the Department to expedite the applications of survivors who apply for humanitarian based visas. These visas are for individuals facing oppression, disasters, or other urgent circumstances, such as criminal activity, human trafficking, or individuals facing persecution while outside the United States.
As you know, the migrants in the tractor trailer suffered extreme heat, potentially up to 130 degrees, and some of the survivors may end up with long-term health issues. According to the San Antonio Fire Department chief, none of the 16 migrants found alive were able to climb out of the tractor trailer without assistance. As the remaining survivors focus on their recovery at San Antonio hospitals, they should not be worried about their future in the United States.
Additionally, we ask that you provide humanitarian parole to allow the families of the victims to visit the survivors and collect the bodies of the dead. It is only right that our government provides an avenue for the family members that can and want to come to the United States to find, locate, bury, or bring home their loved ones.
This tragedy is a symptom of a broken immigration system, and while we will continue to work with you and our colleagues in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, we hope that you will work tirelessly with us to ensure the protection and security of the survivors and their families.
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