Letter to Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security - Protecting Survivors of San Antonio Human Smuggling Tragedy from Deportation


Dear Secretary Mayorkas,

We appreciate you and your agency's work in investigating the horrific human smuggling incident in San Antonio that left 53 migrants dead. While there is still much that local officials, organizations, and the public need to know to help and support the survivors, we know this information will come in due time. However, there are important immediate steps that the Department of Homeland Security (Department) can do to protect the surviving migrants as well as the victims' families.

We urgently request that you exercise prosecutorial discretion to ensure that the surviving migrants are not deported or sent to a detention facility. We also urge the Department to expedite the applications of survivors who apply for humanitarian based visas. These visas are for individuals facing oppression, disasters, or other urgent circumstances, such as criminal activity, human trafficking, or individuals facing persecution while outside the United States.

As you know, the migrants in the tractor trailer suffered extreme heat, potentially up to 130 degrees, and some of the survivors may end up with long-term health issues. According to the San Antonio Fire Department chief, none of the 16 migrants found alive were able to climb out of the tractor trailer without assistance. As the remaining survivors focus on their recovery at San Antonio hospitals, they should not be worried about their future in the United States.

Additionally, we ask that you provide humanitarian parole to allow the families of the victims to visit the survivors and collect the bodies of the dead. It is only right that our government provides an avenue for the family members that can and want to come to the United States to find, locate, bury, or bring home their loved ones.

This tragedy is a symptom of a broken immigration system, and while we will continue to work with you and our colleagues in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, we hope that you will work tirelessly with us to ensure the protection and security of the survivors and their families.