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Activists push for end to Title 42, provide assistance after deadliest human smuggling attempt in U.S. history

RAICES says it has teams ready to assist the surviving victims, and believes the trailer tragedy highlights a need for border policy reform.

SAN ANTONIO — The migrants found in a semi-truck trailer on Monday afternoon, like many, came to the U.S. for a chance at a better life.

For the sixteen survivors, one non-profit group is prepared to help them seek asylum once they recover from their injuries.

After more than 50 people were found dead inside a trailer left in southwest San Antonio on Monday, politicians were pointing the finger over border policies that some activists and lawmakers say leaves migrants at risk, and puts them in further danger.

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, RAICES, is mourning the migrant deaths but also asking for changes to be made.

"Our hearts go out to the families and the people who are in the hospital. We hope they recover quickly, we've just been incredibly saddened and frustrated," Natalia Trotter, supervising attorney of the children's program for RAICES' Corpus Christi office told KENS 5.

RAICES says it was one of the first groups on the ground ready to provide legal services to the victims after learning someone found the migrants asking for help.

"We weren't able to meet directly with the victims, but we wanted to get there and to be able to provide representation, if possible," Trotter said they won't allow the government to deport them without the migrants being given all of their legal rights and protections. They are on standby while the victims recover in San Antonio hospitals.

The group is demanding that President Biden lift Title 42, a pandemic policy which allows the U.S. to expel migrants without immigration proceedings. Republicans and even some Democrats want the policy to remain in place, fearing an unprecedented surge of migrants at the border if Title 42 ends.

“If we don’t see Title 42 end I think these tragedies will continue to happen unfortunately. Hopefully not on this scale but it could happen because people are forced to make these horrific decisions. So that’s why it’s important to restore asylum law,” Trotter said.

RAICES believes another solution is to end the Migrant Protection Protocols, a Trump-era policy that the group says forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico before their claim is heard, although Title 42 would remove a larger barrier for migrants seeking asylum.

"We need a lot of reforms within the immigration system, but getting rid of MPP and Title 42 would be the first step," Trotter said.

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