It’s one of the deadliest mass-casualty events connected to border militarization in years. The number of migrants found dead in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio Monday rose to more than 50 on Tuesday. Another 16 people, including four children, were transported to hospitals with heat-related illnesses.
Across Latin America, the terrified parents, children and siblings of people who recently crossed the border are desperately trying to learn whether their loved ones are among the dead. Calls have been pouring into search and rescue groups such as Aguilas del Desierto. This San Diego-based volunteer group was started by Ely Ortiz, a Mexican, whose brother died trying to enter the U.S. in 2009.
“They want to know whether we know their names or nationalities,” Octavio Soria, a Aguilas del Desierto volunteer, told me. Authorities hadn’t released that information when we spoke. “We’re telling them to call their consulates and watch the news. At any moment they could release the names.” Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard later said on Twitter that the dead include 22 Mexican nationals, seven Guatemalan nationals and two Honduran nationals, among others.