Death of 14 illegal immigrants a bipartisan tragedy

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

July 23, 2012 at 2:23 a.m.
Updated July 24, 2012 at 2:24 a.m.

The deaths of 14 illegal immigrants should be a wake-up call to stronger border security - a responsibility that falls on the lap of the U.S. government, several elected state officials said Monday.

Sunday's single-truck wreck in southern Goliad County, which left 11 dead at the scene and three more dead Monday, shows the uncompassionate truth behind the life of a human trafficker, said District 30 state Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria.

Human traffickers are preying on the poor, who want nothing but a better life, she added.

"I just mourn for these people and their families," Morrison said. "They (traffickers) don't care about these people. It's all for money and gain."

Border security is not only important for those risking their lives to live in America, but also for those already living here who are affected by drug violence and trafficking spilling into the country.

The scary and sad truth is the deaths of people being smuggled into America is nothing new, Morrison said.

In 2003, 19 illegal immigrants were found trapped in a trailer off U.S. Highway 77 at Fleming Prairie Road.

These stories are not uncommon, said Alex Hernandez, Democratic candidate for state representative district 30.

The blame is on the human traffickers trying to make a fast buck - something he and his incumbent opponent agree on.

Hernandez has more than 10 years of experience in illegal immigration cases.

"The punishment for human traffickers isn't strict enough," Hernandez said. "It's not their (illegal immigrants') fault. Human traffickers are to blame. They're just here to try to make a living because what they have at home is worse than what they have here."

At least 1.7 million of Texas' population was made up of illegal immigrants in 2007, according to the U.S. Immigration Support web site. The number has likely increased in the past five years.

This increase stems from lack of federal government involvement, suggests Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, R-Texas, who is seeking the party nomination for U.S. senator in the July 31 runoff election. The state is doing what has to be done, but now it's time for the federal government to pick up the slack.

"Until Washington fully engages, Texas will continue to fight to protect the victims exploited by this criminal activity and pressing the federal government to fulfill its responsibility," Dewhurst wrote in an emailed statement. " Here in Texas, we are working hard to ensure that more people don't fall into the trap of human trafficking and that the people behind these insidious acts pay the price for their crimes."



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