Latest News 2017 September Deadly Crossing: the Use of Big Rigs in Human Smuggling

Deadly Crossing: the Use of Big Rigs in Human Smuggling

Crossing the border between the U.S. has always been dangerous business. The longest stretch of unfenced border is in South Texas, where the summers are long, harsh, and life-threatening. People who attempt the crossing on foot are just as likely to die as they are to be caught—dehydration and heat stroke are the predators of the Rio Grande.

In an attempt to get to the U.S. safely and with a higher chance of success, migrants will spend thousands of dollars to be transported in the back of an eighteen-wheeler. Why? Because big rigs are less likely to be searched by Customs and Border Patrol. The agency can't possibly search the thousands of trucks that make deliveries between the U.S. and Mexico, so it's estimated that hundreds of immigrants are smuggled aboard large trucks.

To put it into perspective, CBP catch 2,000+ migrants traveling by car every year. CPB catches maybe a tenth of that number traveling by big rig.

However, that doesn't mean traveling by big rig isn't also dangerous.

Dozens Killed in Separate Incidents

Many of these big rig smuggling operations advertise the use of ventilation or refrigerated tanks—allowing the travelers to stay relatively cool while they travel. However, truckers have to turn off their refrigeration before arriving at the checkpoint. If they report an empty rig, running the refrigeration would invite suspicion.

In other cases, refrigeration isn't even promised—migrants just hope that they arrive at their destination before the heat becomes unbearable.

As a result, travelers suffer from severe or fatal injuries while the world outside the rig has no idea they're within feet of a dying human being. In July, a group of 39 were discovered in the back of an unrefrigerated big rig in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Ten of them were dead and others were left with brain damage.

This sort of issue isn't a new phenomenon either. In the New York Times report on this story, Border Patrol agents commented that they've been seeing things like this for well over 30 years. In 2002, a 12-hour trip resulted in the death of 2 travelers. The following year, one of the worst disasters in immigration occurred in South Texas.

Near Victoria, TX, a rig carrying dozens of migrants was instructed to switch destinations from a town 45 miles north of the checkpoint, to Houston—more than 200 miles further than originally planned. The smugglers who were supposed to help the migrants unload from the truck were detained at the border, which threw the plan into disarray. This only extended the true horror of the story: the truck's refrigeration unit had never turned on like the migrants were promised.

When the passengers were finally discovered, 19 people were dead.

Visit the link to the New York Times report for more information about this story. While the nation is deeply divided about what needs to be done to solve the immigration problem, we can all agree that there's something wrong when human beings subject themselves to inhumane conditions for a shot at something better. Even if that shot involves risking your life for a chance at entry.

Categories: Immigration