As Mexican officials work to investigate a vehicle collision that has killed at least 53 immigrants and injured at least 50 more, we have to examine what role American immigration policy is playing in these tragedies and in the surge of migrants continuing to come north.
This latest accident happened Thursday when Mexican officials said a cargo truck filled with migrants from Central America rolled over and crashed into a bridge, according to the Associated Press.
The accident happened in the Mexican state of Chiapas, which is the first state migrants enter after crossing the Guatemalan border with Mexico. The details of this horrible crash are being revealed, as is the impact of America’s immigration policy that has done nothing to stem the flow of migrants.
U.S. policy has proved increasingly deadly over the years, and it has done little to deter determined families running from deadly gangs, political instability, climate catastrophes and indigence in Central America, Haiti, South America and Africa. Recently, the Biden Administration was forced to reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols, better known as Remain In Mexico, which requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico as they apply and wait for their asylum cases to be heard.
This goes against international and federal law and the principle of non-refoulement – the policy of not returning refugees and asylum seekers who would face danger or severe insecurity if returned to their country of origin. But while the Biden administration was required to reinstate the policy, it also expanded it to include all migrants from the Western Hemisphere, most notably Haiti.
It should come as no surprise that thousands of migrants are en route to the USA. I have written about it in the past months, and the migrant caravans dominate the news in Mexico.
We have known for months that families were coming en masse, unable to return to their countries of origin. We have also known that they face significant, horrific acts of violence if they are forced to remain in Mexico. Kidnappings, human trafficking, sexual assault and murder are commonplace among these incredibly vulnerable populations.
We have also known that Mexico cannot handle these populations, as the Mexican civil society and U.S. advocates have repeatedly reminded us.
These are the tired, the weak, the hungry and the brave. These are children and mothers who want nothing more than an education, a safe place to sleep, work and live their lives.
We know that these families are coming. I reiterate my call to this administration to partner with Canada and Mexico to find a humane and safe way to process migrants and let them make their asylum cases safely from the United States. It is their legal right to do so.
Surely, death by trailer tractor is not what we want for people who will risk everything just to make an honest living. There has to be a better way.
Carli Pierson is an attorney and an opinion writer at USA TODAY. Follow her on Twitter: @CarliPiersonEsq