The US warns migrants of the danger of their journey across the border

(CNN) — The Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States, Alexander Mayorcaswarned migrants this Sunday not to undertake the dangerous journey to cross the border between the US and Mexico, after 53 migrants died in a suffocating semi-trailer in San Antonio (Texas) last week, in what it was called the deadliest human smuggling incident in US history.

“We have said repeatedly, and continue to warn people not to make the dangerous journey,” Mayorkas told CBS News in an interview. “We saw so tragically in San Antonio, Texas, one of the potentially tragic outcomes of that dangerous journey, and many people don’t even make it that far in the hands of exploitative smugglers.”

The migrants were found Monday after an employee at a nearby building heard cries for help. According to San Antonio authorities, more than a dozen people were found alive inside the trailer and hospitalized for heat-related issues. At least four people have been charged so far.

Mayorkas declined to comment on the details of the tragic incident, including claims by Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar that the truck “was cleared” to pass through a checkpoint in Laredo, Texas, due to traffic problems.

“I think the facts are still being investigated. It’s a criminal case. I’m not going to talk about the details, those facts will be known in a court of law as the accusation progresses,” Mayorkas told ABC News in a separate interview on Sunday. .

The San Antonio tragedy occurred after US federal authorities launched what they described as an “unprecedented” operation to dismantle human smuggling networks amid the influx of migrants on the US-Mexico border.

“Exploiting vulnerable people for profit is shameful, as is the political bombast surrounding the tragedy, and my administration will continue to do all it can to stop smugglers and human traffickers from preying on people trying to get into United States between the ports of entry,” said President Joe Biden it’s a statement in response to the deaths of migrants last week.

The end of the “Remain in Mexico” policy

Mayorkas also applauded this Sunday the recent Supreme Court ruling of the United States that allows the Biden administration to end the controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy of the Trump administration, telling ABC News that the policy “is flawed and causes an unjustifiable human tragedy.”

Under the 2019 program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, certain non-Mexican migrants who entered the United States were sent back to Mexico — rather than detained or released in the United States — while their immigration proceedings unfolded.

Although authorities at the time said this would prevent immigrants from taking advantage of the immigration system and keep them safe, immigrant advocacy groups have argued that forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed in US courts puts vulnerable people in even more dangerous situations.

Biden’s order to end the program still stands, but Thursday’s ruling suggests the order should be lifted shortly.

“We have to wait until the Supreme Court’s decision is actually communicated to the lower court, to the federal district court in the Northern District of Texas, and once that happens, the district court should lift its injunction preventing putting end to the program,” Mayorkas said. “So we have to wait several weeks for that procedural step to be taken.”

On CBS, Mayorkas said the US “will continue to enforce immigration law as it is our legal responsibility,” adding that migrants in San Antonio “received false information from smugglers (and) put their lives, savings of their whole lives in the hands of these exploitative organizations, these criminal organizations, who do not care about their lives, and only seek to make a profit”.

The secretary responded to criticism from Republicans that migrants detained at the border are released into the United States, telling CBS that asylum seekers “are put into immigration enforcement proceedings … and if those claims are not successful, they will be promptly expelled from the United States.”

Mayorkas, meanwhile, said the US Supreme Court’s ruling in recent months to overturn Roe v. Wade “really added to the atmosphere of threat” surrounding the court and said his department has “deployed resources to ensure the safety of the Supreme Court and the justices.”

“In the Department of Homeland Security we deploy personnel for that purpose,” he said. “We do not condone violence, and law enforcement will and have responded to acts of violence when people do not honor their freedom to peacefully protest, but instead violate the laws of our country and the states that comprise it.”

CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Rosa Flores, Rosalina Nieves, Raja Razek, Catherine E. Shoichet, Priscilla Alvarez and Kaanita Iyer contributed to this report.

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