More than fifty immigrants were found dead in a semi-truck left on a street in San Antonio, TX on June 27. Initially, the death toll was reported as 46, but that has increased and may increase still more. It is possible that some of the dead were children, but that has yet to be confirmed. This is not the first time such a horror has happened, but it is the worst yet. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller addressed the faithful of San Antonio in a written statement: “We pray for the souls of the 46 people who died in such a cruel, inhuman manner this evening, and also keep in prayer the 16 survivors – 14 adults and four children – as well as their families and all of the first responders who assisted and saved lives and must now carry with them the memories of this scene of carnage. … I urge all in the archdiocese to unite in solidarity, as these brothers and sisters are members of our family.” Indeed. Regardless of how these immigrants came to the United States or what their motives were, they are human beings, many if not most of them Catholics, and our brothers and sisters.
ICE and CBP issued statements that they will not be enforcing immigration laws in the area so that those impacted by this tragedy can seek assistance or identify the dead without fear of law enforcement. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) remind the public that sites that are impacted by disasters or tragic incidents like what occurred in San Antonio yesterday are considered protected areas. To the fullest extent possible, ICE and CBP will not conduct immigration enforcement activities so individuals, regardless of immigration status, can seek assistance, and otherwise address the tragedy with law enforcement.” Good. That is how it should be.
This is a direct result of our country’s broken immigration policies. President Biden has essentially created a policy of open borders, allowing virtually anyone who wants to come into the country, legal or otherwise, easy access and even accommodating them, with no concern for their status as single men or unaccompanied children. While Biden has preached vaccines and testing for COVID and some political leaders continue to demand that young children wear masks at school, illegal immigrants are allowed into the country and even shipped to various states under the cloak of night with no regard for their health status. Biden and other Democrats have even spoken of free healthcare for illegal immigrants, something most American citizens don’t enjoy. Looking for jobs, a better life, or escape from politically corrupt and violent home countries, illegal immigrants are lured to the United States with what they see as a free for all attitude from the Biden administration.
It is one thing to create a just and equitable immigration policy. It is one thing to create opportunities for those in genuine need. It is quite another to create an environment of chaos that puts both immigrants and citizens in danger. The influx of illegal immigrants at our southern border is unprecedented, and we are not prepared as a nation to absorb so many in such a short span of time. As well, cartels and human traffickers are exploiting our open southern border to infuse millions of drugs and human slaves into the U. S. Just earlier this month, two Mexican nationals stopped for a traffic violation were found in possession of 150,000 fentanyl pills, enough to kill millions of people. They were arrested but, amazingly, released under their own recognizance by a judge.
It is possible to create an immigration policy that is both fair and just. The tragedy in San Antonio is a direct result of our current nonsensical, open borders policy. We cannot allow this to continue. We as a nation have a right to control our borders, to control who comes in and who does not. Our heritage as a nation of immigrants recommends that we have a moral duty to create legal and reasonable pathways to immigration and citizenship. It’s not an all or nothing proposition. Just and fair are not mutually exclusive. Our political leaders have, for the most part, ignored genuine immigration reform, preferring to use immigration as a wedge issue for elections than to find real solutions. In the meantime, communities are being overwhelmed, drug and human trafficking cartels are expanding their territories, immigrants looking to improve their lives are being exploited by corrupt and criminal systems, and border patrol agents are feeling embattled because they rightly conclude that their government doesn’t care about their efforts and is uninterested in giving them the resources to do their job effectively.
It’s long past time to address this issue seriously. Doing so is the only genuine way to remember the dead in San Antonio.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.