With grief and rage

Please read this note from our partner organization CASP:

It is with grief and rage that we report that the bodies of fifty people were found yesterday in a tractor trailer outside of San Antonio, Texas.

Fifty human beings left family, friends, and lives behind to seek safety in this country. Fifty human beings fleeing Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico were put in a position in which the safest choice available to them was to hide inside of a truck and cross the border into the United States.

It was 101 degrees in San Antonio yesterday. Their bodies were found as the sun began to set.

If you’ve seen coverage of this event, you’ll know that the government’s and the media’s response is to focus on the truck drivers. The narrative we’re offered is one that calls attention to a tragic loss of life at the hands of ruthless human smugglers. The conclusion of that kind of narrative is a carceral one: enforcing border security; “cracking down” on trafficking; increasing surveillance. It’s a comforting story for uncomfortable readers: “don’t worry,” it whispers. “We’ll punish the people resonsible for this. We’ll take care of it.”

This story is a distraction, leading us by the hand and begging us to look away from the active complicity of our own government: not only in contributing to the conditions that led fifty human beings to their deaths, but in directly obstructing their access to safe pathways to asylum.

Since March 2020, the Biden Administration has been operating under Title 42, a section of the U.S. public health code that allows the government to close legal Ports of Entry in a public health crisis. Although the rest of the country has taken off our masks and abandoned many of our COVID safety protocols, the Ports of Entry remain closed to human beings seeking safety. This means that there is currently no legal way to seek asylum at the Southern Border – a right enshrined in international law. Asylum seekers are forced to risk their lives to try to save them: by swimming dangerous rivers, crossing sweltering deserts, and climbing inside of trucks in hopes that the trucks do not become their tombs.

Today, fifty human beings are dead. They fled violence exacerbated by U.S. coups d’etat, militarism, and policies aimed at enriching our economy. Their deaths could have been prevented if our government had listened earlier to the public outcry to revoke Title 42. It’s time for them to do it now.

San Antonio’s mayor yesterday referred to the deaths of these fifty human beings as a “horrific human tragedy.” But it’s not only horrific: it’s genocidal. And it’s not only human: it’s political. And it’s not a tragedy: it’s fifty murders.

We hold the family members of these fifty human beings in our hearts, and stand with asylum seekers all over the country in their grief and their rage.

To hear more about Title 42, and the work of the Community Asylum Seekers Project, check out the interview with our Executive Director broadcast last week by WHMP radio in Western Massachusetts, which discusses our work, how to get involved, and why people seek asylum at the southern border.