Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The death toll has risen to 53 after a parked truck trailer with migrants trapped inside was found in the US state of Texas. This was announced by Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday.

“It is the deadliest case of migrant smuggling on American soil,” lamented Abbott, raising serious allegations against Democratic President Joe Biden: Biden’s lax migration policy was responsible for the catastrophe. The Mexican migration authority also disclosed new investigation results: Accordingly, the alleged driver of the truck initially pretended to be a survivor. However, he was identified and – like two other suspects – arrested.

According to police, a worker discovered the bodies in the truck on Monday evening (local time) on the outskirts of the Texas city of San Antonio after hearing a call for help from the trailer. At least 16 survivors were dehydrated and initially taken to a hospital with heat exhaustion. According to the fire brigade, there was apparently neither a working air conditioning system nor water in the trailer, which was in the blistering heat. The victims were allegedly smuggled into the United States, San Antonio is only about 250 kilometers from the Mexican border.

Abbott demanded that Biden make it clear that no one can enter the country illegally so that migrants do not even set off. There are legal ways to immigrate. In addition, the US border protection agency must be properly equipped so that it can do its job.

According to Mexican authorities, the truck passed two checkpoints run by the US border protection agency CBP on Monday. Abbott said the truck wasn’t inspected because there weren’t enough resources to inspect all trucks. Biden must change that.

Migration expert Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, on the other hand, told US broadcaster PBS: “The reality is that the vast majority of people who come to our border and are looking for a better life have no legal opportunity to enter the country.” Under the former Republican president Donald Trump, for example, has also had legal immigration routes curtailed. People would therefore be driven to ever more dangerous routes.

The head of the Mexican migration authority, Francisco Garduño, said in Mexico City that among the fatalities in San Antonio were at least 27 Mexicans, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two from El Salvador. It was initially unclear whether children were among the dead. The foreign ministers of Mexico and Guatemala announced that their countries would participate in the investigation.

The number of illegal border crossings from Mexico to the United States has been record high in recent months. The US authorities picked up a good 239,000 people at the border with Mexico in May alone. Criminal smuggling organizations operating inside the US often transport migrants in trucks after they have already crossed the US border. They are supposed to be smuggled past checkpoints near the border. In recent years there have been fatal incidents again and again – the current case in San Antonio is considered to be the one with the most fatalities.