WASHINGTON (TND) — The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating another deadly human smuggling incident. Six people died after a suspected smuggler crashed while being chased by law enforcement.
The department shared a photo of the scene on Twitter Thursday, saying, "This is the 2nd deadly human smuggling event within 24 hours resulting in the deaths of 6 immigrants."
The Department of Justice also announced that it is moving forward with charges against four people after 53 migrants died after being left in the back of an abandoned semi-truck in sweltering heat with no signs of water or air conditioning inside.
The alleged driver, Homero Zamorano Jr., is charged with involvement in human smuggling resulting in death. His accused partner, Christian Martinez, faces a count of conspiracy to transport undocumented migrants resulting in death. They could face life in prison or the death penalty.
The tragedy sparked fierce political debate once again about how to secure the southern border and it only intensified Thursday when the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the controversial Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy.
In its 5-4 opinion, the court ruled that the Biden administration’s decision to stop enforcing the program, formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols, did not violate the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and that the Constitution authorizes the executive branch "to engage in direct diplomacy with foreign heads of state and their ministers."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit trying to block the policy from being lifted, claiming Biden’s policies have encouraged illegal immigration and put Border Patrol agents in tough territory.
“On day one, they started inviting people to come in and instead of them having to run from the border agents, they now run to the border agents — the agents working for the Biden administration. It's unfortunate that they're put in this terrible position,” Paxton said. “This decision is only going to hurt and make that worse.”
Some human rights organizations that consider Thursday’s ruling a victory say the “Remain in Mexico” policy created an increase in migrants being raped and murdered after being sent back to Mexico.
“Well, look, the challenge really is not that,” Paxton said when asked how he would respond to those concerns. “The challenge came from the Biden administration, inviting all of these people to come in by the millions and this is not the way to do immigration. We need to have an orderly process, one that's controlled by federal law that the elected representatives put in place and the Biden administration has overridden elected representatives illegally and they've created this chaos at the border so this is to be expected.”
He says the Biden administration is willing to sacrifice lives in the interest of allowing more migrants into the country, pointing to the migrant deaths in San Antonio, which the Department of Homeland Security called "the worst human smuggling event in the United States."
“They're willing to trade the loss of lives — whether it's this or whether it's the massive increase in overdoses from fentanyl and other drugs coming across the border that now we can't stop or whether it's just crime in general from just the massive surge of immigrants and the fact that they're even bringing criminals in this country — that is the direction the Biden administration wants to go and they're willing to trade all of that to get more illegals in this country,” Paxton said.
Without the support of the federal government, Paxton says it’s been tough for Texas to act alone to protect the border.
“We're in this tough position where there's a federal law in place. We're supposedly not allowed to implement our own laws that are like federal law to protect our citizens and so the Biden administration is openly harming our citizens, openly harming our border communities and we're supposed to sit by and watch it happen,” he said. “That can't last forever.”
Paxton says now that the case is headed back to district court, he and his colleagues are going to make another push to keep “Remain in Mexico” in place.
“We have the opportunity to make our case one more time,” Paxton said. “The court said that there are still more issues to be resolved and so we're going back there and we're going to try to win. We're still not done.”