Curt Prendergast: Use gun safety model for border deaths | Local editorials and opinion
Here is the author’s opinion and analysis:
A horrific event in San Antonio last week showed the country that the US-Mexico border can be as deadly for migrants as a sniper shooting into a crowd.
Last week, dozens of migrants rode on the back of a tractor-trailer as they tried to sneak across the border into Texas. The sweltering heat killed 53 of them, making it the deadliest border crossing in recent memory. The appalling death toll put it on par with the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, where a gunman fired into a crowd at a country music festival and killed 58 people.
In response to the San Antonio deaths, several senators issued statements last week drawing parallels to the mass shootings and calling for urgent action. Now is the time for them to commit to finding a solution, as they did with the mass shootings last month.
“The tragic discovery of at least 53 migrants who perished after crossing our border should be a galvanizing moment – like the tragic shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, in a statement. tweet.
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“The Senate needs to come together to produce an immigration deal in the spirit of the recent gun safety compromise,” Durbin said.
“Nineteen students and two teachers died in Uvalde, prompting a national response,” Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, said in a tweet. “What will it take to elicit a response to preventable deaths at the border from the Biden administration?”
“The last mass murder in America did not involve guns, it was a direct result of Joe Biden’s open borders policy,” said Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, in a campaign ad.
I agree to some degree with Johnson and Cornyn. I think Biden’s policies played a part in those deaths just like the policies under Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton played a part in the deaths of thousands of migrants, including about 4,000 in southern Arizona .
I also think that the failure of senators like Johnson, Durbin and Cornyn to pass the necessary laws created the situation where dozens of migrants felt they had no choice but to get into a tractor-trailer in June heat.
The best way forward for lawmakers would be to give people crammed into tractor-trailers and migrants walking through the desert different options, such as the ability to apply for a visa. But that would likely require a monumental compromise on US immigration policy.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers that drafted the gun safety law failed to tackle the biggest gun violence challenges. Instead, they chose measures likely to win broad support, such as cracking down on gun trafficking and expanding background checks. They should do the same with migrant deaths.
A simple option would be to expand the use of screening technology by Customs and Border Protection, which allows officers to see inside tractor-trailers and makes human smuggling attempts dangerous. , as well as smuggling drugs like fentanyl, much more difficult.
In southern Arizona, a simple option would be to expand the Border Patrol program that installs rescue beacons in the desert. They could also put more signs with contact details on them, which migrants can pass to rescuers when calling for help.
Other options that would not require an overhaul of the immigration system include funding overtime pay for sheriff’s deputies to conduct search and rescue efforts, improving the 911 system, and expanding mobile phone coverage in remote areas.
While no new border policies were put in place last week, it’s heartening to see senators talking about migrant deaths with urgency. I hope they can harness the bipartisan momentum of the Gun Safety Act and work together to end these preventable deaths.
Curt Prendergast is an opinion writer at the Arizona Daily Star. Before becoming an opinion writer in 2021, he covered border, immigration and federal courts for the Star.