After 53 migrants died in an abandoned tractor trailer in San Antonio, Gov. Greg Abbott detailed Texas's plans for combating human trafficking on Wednesday, including by setting up additional checkpoints for trucks coming across the border.
"DPS will create and implement a checkpoint strategy beginning immediately," Abbott said at a press conference in the border town of Eagle Pass. "They will begin targeting trucks, like the one that was used where these people perished, to make sure that we will have a better capability of perhaps stopping future trucks like that, as well as stopping the smugglers and the cartel members who were trying to profiteer off it."
Abbott directed state law enforcement agencies to step up checkpoints at the border earlier this year, but ended them in April after they snarled commercial traffic.
The governor also stepped up his criticism of President Biden on Wednesday, urging him to make full use of Title 42 and the ‘remain in Mexico’ policies, as well as restart the construction of a border wall.
"Because of the way that the Biden administration is not enforcing the immigration laws, it's attracting people and enticing people to make this very dangerous trek causing them to lose their lives. I urge the president, stop the loss of lives," Abbott said Wednesday.
"You have the ability to stop people from losing their lives if you make it clear that no one can come across illegally."
Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw said that in addition to new truck checkpoints, strike forces will also be deployed to human trafficking hot spots.
"We're going to deploy strike teams of DPS special agents to conduct surveillance and look for these cloned vehicles, stolen vehicles that are staged along the highways used to smuggle people… and also identify stash houses, which is very important to disrupting Mexican cartel operations," McCraw said Wednesday alongside Abbott.
The tractor trailer that law enforcement found dozens of dead migrants in was a clone of a south Texas-based trucking company, complete with copied registration numbers and the same color.
Three men have been arrested in connection with the tragedy. Two of them, Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, are Mexican nationals who allegedly overstayed B-2 visas. They were initially charged through separate criminal complaints as illegal immigrants in possession of firearms.
A third man, believed to be the driver of the truck, was also arrested and charged with human trafficking.