Haven’t seen the last of it

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

The tableau of mis­ery in­side a trac­tor-trailer packed with un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants at a Wal­mart park­ing lot in San An­to­nio last week­end was be­yond hor­rific. At one point, be­fore dozens of the mi­grants were off­loaded by hu­man traf­fick­ers, more than 100 peo­ple were crammed into the trailer’s light­less, nearly air­less in­te­rior, bak­ing in the south Texas sum­mer heat and tak­ing turns to suck air through a hole in the ve­hi­cle’s side. By the time po­lice were sum­moned, early Sun­day, eight peo­ple lay dead in­side the trailer; two more died in the hos­pi­tal in the en­su­ing 24 hours.

It is to be hoped that state and fed­eral au­thor­i­ties will sweep up the traf­fick­ers re­spon­si­ble for this out­rage in San An­to­nio and that sen­tences will be harsh.

The mag­netic pull of the U.S. econ­omy and its de­mand for low-wage, low-skilled la­bor has for decades at­tracted poverty-stricken work­ers from south of the bor­der will­ing to take in­or­di­nate risks and en­ter into bar­gains with un­scrupu­lous smug­glers.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, so far at least, has man­aged to drive down the num­ber of il­le­gal bor­der crossers, partly by tough­en­ing ac­tual en­force­ment but mainly by jaw­bon­ing—es­tab­lish­ing an in­hos­pitable po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment.

But not all have been or will be dis­suaded.

With­out an overhaul of the na­tion’s dys­func­tional im­mi­gra­tion laws, don’t ex­pect il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion or hu­man traf­fick­ing or fur­ther ter­ri­ble tragedies to end any­time soon.

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