Mayorkas slams ‘callous’ smugglers’ ‘profit’ motive for latest tragedy at the border
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday took aim at “callous” smugglers responsible for the deaths of two migrants in a rail car in Texas – accusing the smugglers of only caring about “making a profit.”
“We are heartbroken to learn of yet another tragic incident of migrants taking the dangerous journey,” the DHS chief said in a statement.
Uvalde Police Department said that approximately 15 people in need of medical attention had been found in the rail car, which had been stopped by Border Patrol two to three miles east of Knippa, Texas, after a 911 call warning of migrants suffocating. Two of those migrants died, five were air-lifted to San Antonio, and five were taken to nearby hospitals.
Mayorkas praised Border Patrol agents and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents supporting the investigation.
“We will work with the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office to hold those responsible,” he said. “Smugglers are callous and only care about making a profit.”
MIGRANT DEATHS ON TEXAS TRAIN MARK LATEST BORDER INCIDENT IN STRING OF RECENT TRAGEDIES: ‘HEARTBROKEN’
The tragedy comes after the death of eight migrants earlier this month on two smuggling vessels that capsized off the coast of Southern California and is one of a number of deadly incidents at or near the border in recent years.
In FY 2022, there were 856 migrant deaths, marking the highest on record and coming amid record numbers of migrant encounters at the southern border.
TEXAS AUTHORITIES SAY AT LEAST 2 MIGRANTS DEAD, OVER A DOZEN INJURED AFTER SUFFOCATING IN TRAIN CAR
The administration has repeatedly appealed to migrants not to make the treacherous journey north and not to put their lives into the hands of smugglers. Instead, they have called on migrants to take advantage of the legal asylum pathways the administration has either created or expanded – while also tackling “root causes” in Central America.
However, while the administration believes it has turned the corner and has seen a decrease in illegal border crossings in January and February, crossings remain high, and Republicans have blamed the crisis on the Biden administration’s rolling back of Trump-era border protections.
Republicans in the House have zeroed in on Mayorkas, in particular, for his handling of the crisis. Some Republicans, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have floated a possible impeachment of the DHS chief, while others have introduced articles of impeachment against him.
Mayorkas has brushed off those calls but was recently dealt a blow when Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told lawmakers that DHS does not have “operational control” of the southern border. Mayorkas had told lawmakers last year that DHS does have operational control of the border.
The hearing was held by the House Homeland Security Committee to “examine the direct link between President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas’ reckless border policies and the unprecedented crisis at our Southwest border” and was one of a number of hearings and visits being held at the border itself by Republicans, now that they control the chamber.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.
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