Shortly before 6 p.m. on Monday, June 27, San Antonio authorities responded to a call from a worker who reported hearing a cry for help coming from inside a tractor-trailer on a city backroad.
Authorities at the scene found forty-six people dead in an abandoned tractor-trailer. According to Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, four more later died after being taken to nearby hospitals.
Among the dead were 39 males and 11 females — reportedly migrants.
Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed on Twitter that those identified among the dead were from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Mexican officials could not confirm the nationality of the other 19 migrants found alive — many of whom are being treated for heat stroke and exhaustion — including four minors.
Fire Chief Charles Hood told the Associated Press that those taken to the hospital were hot to the touch and dehydrated.
With temperatures reaching up to 103 degrees and without water or air-conditioning — which local and U.S. authorities could find no signs of — those inside the trailer were subjected to unfathomable heat conditions.
Tragically, this is not the first time something like this has happened. In 2017, nine migrants were found dead inside a truck parked at a Walmart in San Antonio, and in 2003, 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of the city.
Migrants — and immigrants — are subjected to much more than heat-related issues, though.
Whether fleeing poverty, violence, or persecution, they often have little to no choice but to leave their homes — some even abandoning ancestral lands — in search of safety and job opportunity.
Some pour their entire savings and risk their lives for the chance to provide futures for themselves and their families.
It’s worth noting that while much of the attention around migrant injustices in recent years has been centered around children and families, everyone deserves to have their basic human dignity upheld, and the right to safety.
From securing safe work and housing to accessing healthcare services, migrants are left navigating unfamiliar territory with limited to no resources.
Many of these problems and injustices result from an outdated and often inhumane immigration policy in the United States and systemic root issues in Central America.
Fortunately, change is possible. Organizations and advocates by the border have been diligently providing aid and working on immediate solutions.
We’ve collected a series of action steps each of us can take to help support migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
How to make a difference for families, children, and all migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border:
Watch a documentary about the current Texas-Mexico immigration crisis
Learn more about the treacherous passage that many migrants make through Brooks County, Texas — about 70 miles north of the border.
“Missing in Brooks County” a documentary directed by Jeff Bemiss and Lisa Molomot, paints a portrait of how thousands die of dehydration and deathly heat exposure, all to avoid the Border Patrol internal checkpoint near Falfurrias, Texas.
“Missing in Brooks County” is available for rent.
Listen to this Pulitzer-winning podcast episode
This American Life won the very first Pulitzer Prize ever given to audio journalism, for its "revelatory, intimate journalism that illuminates the personal impact of the Trump administration's 'Remain in Mexico' policy.'"
The winning episode, “The Out Crowd,” released last November, took listeners inside the lives of individuals on both sides of the Remain in Mexico policy.
Read a brief history of immigration at the Texas-Mexico border
Effective, solution-oriented action starts with understanding an issue’s origin. And though many of us may despise a history lesson, it’s hard to truly get to the root of any issue without doing some homework.
TIME’s article “The Situation at the U.S.-Mexico Border Can't Be 'Solved' Without Acknowledging Its Origins” is a great starting point.
Read about immigration law
If you’re interested in supporting migrant and undocumented immigrants in your community, The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a great resource that provides a wide range of tools from experienced advocates.
Their Community Resources page offers free guides for immigration preparedness, legal service providers in your area, and “know your rights” cards — equipping you to advocate for migrants and immigrants.
Read “The Devil's Highway: A True Story” by Luis Alberto Urrea
As a Texan Latina who grew up by the border, I knew the obstacles and perils associated with crossing the border. I heard many of those stories first-hand.
However, it wasn’t until I read “The Devil's Highway: A True Story” by Luis Alberto Urrea, that I felt a deeper understanding and renewed sense of respect and advocacy for those who have perished and risked their lives for the hope of safety and security.
This horrific true story shares the journey that one group took through one of the deadliest regions on the continent: a place called the Devil’s Highway. Urrea takes his readers to the small towns and unpaved cities south of the border. It’s a sad but accurate portrayal of the journey many migrants take to get to cross the border, and I highly recommend adding this as a resource to gain deeper insight into the issue.
Donate to RAICES
RAICES is a Texas-based nonprofit organization that provides free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.
Describing the United States’ current immigration and border policy as “intentionally dehumanizing”, the organization is fighting to release individuals from ICE detention centers, providing legal services to detained children on the border, and organizing staff, volunteers, and pro-bono lawyers to support immigrant families in the American legal system.
Your donation to RAICES will allow their team to continue fighting for immigration rights and defending the dignity of asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees.
Donate to Sueños Sin Fronteras
They strive to provide equitable access to health care services for immigrant and undocumented communities in San Antonio, Texas.
Donations can be sent to Sueños Sin Fronteras via Venmo, Cash App, or PayPal. Funds go directly to their programs that include transportation access, community care, reproductive health services, and educational workshops.
Donate to Corazón San Antonio
The Corazon Migrant Shelter has become a survival mechanism in times of crisis or continued displacement for asylum seekers traveling through San Antonio.
Corazón San Antonio aims to provide free aid to migrating populations and access to compassionate care and support. You can donate to Corazón San Antonio’s local efforts to provide safe shelter, transportation, and meals to migrants.
Donate to solve root issues within Central America
While supporting immigrants once they reach the U.S. is important, it’s just as vital to ensure that there’s less need for people to put themselves in a dangerous situation in search of a safer, more secure place to live and work.
Donate to the United Nations Refugee Agency to support their work in solving the root causes within Central America that cause people to flee their home countries.
Call your elected officials
It has effectively been decades since Congress passed any sort of meaningful immigration bills. A lot has changed since 1986, but Congress has continually failed to act.
Faith-based immigrant-rights organization, We Welcome, has made it easy for you to tell your legislators to support meaningful, bipartisan immigration reform.
They recommend contacting your elected officials (by phone or email) with a message like this:
Dear [Representative/Senator Name],
As a constituent, I urge you to permanently solidify the contributions of immigrants who are integral to our communities, and pass meaningful, bipartisan immigration reforms. I’ve been deeply disturbed by much of the rhetoric coming from lawmakers in recent weeks, which dehumanizes migrants and seeks to block asylum protections at the southern US border. I urge you to work across the aisle to find solutions that uphold human dignity and support the interests of the American people.
Approximately 78% of farmworkers, who have maintained our food supply and ensured Americans have food on their tables throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, were born outside of the United States. This includes the undocumented, temporary guest-workers, green card holders, and naturalized citizens.
About 130,000 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders are currently contributing as essential workers, and nearly 30,000 DACA recipients work in health care across the U.S., yet both groups face uncertainty surrounding their future in the United States.
I urge you to support legislation that would provide Dreamers and TPS holders with protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain permanent legal status, and any legislation that would reform and modernize our current agricultural worker visa program, ensure workers are authorized, provide additional worker protections, and create a pathway to citizenship for current unauthorized agricultural workers.
Furthermore, I ask that you do not join in efforts to force the use of Title 42 as an immigration deterrent, but instead work to create permanent, bipartisan solutions that facilitate orderly border management while also protecting the legal right to seek asylum.
Now more than ever, I urge you to take long-overdue action to pass these needed immigration reforms.
[Your name here]
Volunteer on the border
If you live in a border state, you can use your time and energy to make a positive impact in person.
Historically, we’ve recommended volunteering with volunteering with Catholic Charities to care for unaccompanied minors in San Antonio.
Unfortunately (or, actually, fortunately), they’ve received overwhelming support and interest from volunteers — and currently do not need more volunteers.
We’ll update this guide when the opportunity to volunteer IRL becomes available in the future.