Episcopal Office of Government Relations issues statement on migrants found dead in Texas

Posted Jun 28, 2022

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations released a statement on June 28 mourning the death of 50 migrants discovered in and near an abandoned a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, and the office called for federal reforms to address the dangers facing immigrants, migrants and refugees.

“The Episcopal Church mourns the horrific and preventable tragedy in San Antonio,” the Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations said. “We pray for those who lost their lives and their families. These deaths should never have happened nor the deaths of any migrants attempting to arrive to the United States.”

The human disaster was discovered around 6 p.m. June 27 by an employee of a nearby building after hearing someone shouting for help, according to police. In addition to those found dead at the scene, authorities say 16 people, including children, were still alive but suffering from heat exhaustion and were taken to hospitals.

Three people reportedly have been taken into custody, though it is not yet clear how they were involved and whether they face criminal charges. Authorities have said it appeared to be a case of cross-border human smuggling that turned deadly in the 100-degree Texas heat.

“The church recognizes the links between migrants in vulnerable transit situations, human trafficking and other dangers and is committed to working to establish and maintain robust, safe, and orderly routes for refugees,” the Office of Government Relations said. “Our country must end our reliance on harmful policies like Title 42 or the Migration Protection Protocol that provide unsafe incentives to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, and we must continue to push Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes safe and orderly border management, a just asylum system and humane treatment for all migrants.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, blamed the deaths on leniency by the Biden administration toward migrants crossing the border into the United States. Biden responded with a statement condemning smugglers.

“Exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy,” Biden said. “My administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry.”