46 deaths in Texas show US a ‘highway to hell’ for some migrants
Published: Jun 28, 2022 10:16 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

At least 46 people believed to be migrants were found dead in and around an abandoned tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas on Monday night, said local officials. According to US media reports, this "horrific human tragedy," as the city's mayor claimed, is the deadliest smuggling incident in the country in recent years.

Migrants have been a vital part of the US since its founding. The country is known as a "melting pot," but for some, it seems that the heaven for migrants has become a hell.

A professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times that the inhumane abuses of migrants, especially the illegal ones, are one of the significant stains on Washington's human rights record.

"Many undocumented immigrants become illegal workers after they arrive in the US. To some extent, they are treated like modern-day slaves by different interest groups in the country," the expert said.

For years, people from developing countries were brought to the US under false pretenses or simply through human trafficking. For these people, becoming forced labor would be their fate in the country. An indictment of several immigrant smugglers in 2021 revealed that their victims were forced to work as day laborers on the farm, living in dirty, overcrowded conditions without regular access to food and water.

Moreover, non-white migrants are more vulnerable to police brutality than other groups in the US. In April 2022, for example, a white police officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, shot and killed Patrick Lyoya, a black immigrant from Congo who had fled to the US for asylum. 

Lyoya's death sparked outrage in the US. Lyoya was a documented migrant. If a legal immigrant is treated this way, it is hard to believe the fate of those without documents.

For many poor people from the developing world, the American dream is so beautiful and promising that they are willing to risk entering the US through dangerous means. For example, some of these people enter from the US' southern border, especially near the Texas-Mexico border, by hiding in vans. This partially relates to Texas' history of harsh and high-handed measures against illegal immigration.

In March 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott launched "Operation Lone Star." This joint mission between the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department aims to prevent criminal activities along the border with Mexico, including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking.

As of this June, the Texas military had apprehended and referred more than 134,000 illegal immigrants to law enforcement and had denied border crossings to more than 16,000 migrants.

The costly program has been called a "discriminatory and abusive operation" by some human rights organizations. 

The American Bar Association has also criticized the program as "a breeding ground for racial profiling, biased policing, and has overwhelmed local judicial systems, leading to serious violations of due process," according to the association's website.

Instead of reflecting on and changing the horrible treatment of migrants, Uncle Sam has chosen to upgrade his abuses against these people. As a result, the road to the US for the migrants looks more like a highway to hell now. And even if some of these people manage to reach the US, the American dream they pursue quickly becomes a nightmare of systematic discrimination, exploitation, violence, and even death.

It is hilarious that as a country obsessed with boasting of its "human rights," the US is not interested in making greater efforts to improve its human rights conditions. 

This only shows how hypocritical Washington is over human rights issues.

So, Uncle Sam, the next time you accuse and smear others' human rights situations, you should look in the mirror first to see your ugly face covered with human rights violations and think about how many innocent lives you should be responsible for.