Biden calls San Antonio migrant deaths ‘horrifying and heartbreaking’, slams ‘political grandstanding around tragedy’

“Exploiting vulnerable people for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy, and my administration will continue to do everything possible to prevent human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who seek to enter the United States between ports of entry,” Biden said in a statement.

In his statement, Biden highlighted the work already done by his administration to combat trafficking.

“This incident underscores the need to tackle the multi-billion dollar criminal smuggling industry that preys on migrants and results in far too many innocent deaths,” he said. “Two weeks ago in Los Angeles, I announced that the United States had launched a first-of-its-kind anti-smuggling campaign with our regional partners. In the first three months, we conducted more than 2,400 arrests, and this work will only intensify in the months to come.”

The death toll includes migrants from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, according to a federal law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Their discovery on Monday comes as US federal authorities launched an “unprecedented” operation to disrupt smuggling networks amid an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border.

“A suspected human trafficking event” was alerted by San Antonio police to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s investigative unit, which is leading the investigation, a spokesperson said Monday. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The incident appears to be among the deadliest in recent years for migrants near the southern border.

Three people detained away from the trailer site are in custody, though their connection to the situation is unclear, Police Chief Bill McManus said at a Monday evening news conference.

Authorities were alerted to the scene just before 6 p.m. when a worker from a nearby building heard a call for help, McManus said. The worker found a trailer with partially open doors and saw dead people inside, McManus said.

Forty-eight people died at the scene and two died in hospitals, the federal law enforcement official told CNN on Tuesday, noting that the toll is preliminary.

Sixteen people — 12 adults and four children — were taken alive and conscious to medical facilities, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said at Monday night’s news conference.

CNN’s Amy Simonson, Amanda Musa, Travis Caldwell and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.


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