The bodies of around 50 migrants were discovered in a tractor-trailer that had been abandoned on the outskirts of San Antonio Monday night in a deadly smuggling episode on the US-Mexico border.
The death toll rose to 53 on Wednesday after two more people died, according to the Bexar county medical examiner’s office. Forty of the victims were male and 13 were female, it said. Three people have been arrested in connection to the tragedy. The survivors were suffering from extreme heat exhaustion and dehydration.
For more than a year, Gov. Greg Abbott has poured billions of dollars in state funding into increasing the presence of the Texas State Police and National Guard soldiers at the border. But the effort has been unable to stop the flow of migrants crossing from Mexico either to seek asylum or, in other cases, to evade the authorities and enter the country illegally.
Earlier on Monday, Abbott had been touting his government’s efforts on Twitter, posting statistics on the number of migrants apprehended. Mr. Abbott’s office did not immediately comment on the deaths near San Antonio before the governor returned to Twitter to confirm the deaths and attack President Biden, a Democrat, whom Mr. Abbott has sought to blame for the large number of arriving migrants.
“These deaths are on Biden,” the Republican, who is facing reelection this fall, tweeted. “They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
The governor came under fire from Vice President Kamala Harris for his reaction. In an interview, the Vice President offered her condolences for the people who “it seems, by what we know so far, were trying to find a better life” before she pushed back against the Texas governor’s critiques of the administration.
“His response, where there are 50 dead bodies in his state, is to go straight to politics instead of dealing with the realities of the issue,” Harris said.