Day in and day out, we hear stories of immigrants willingly agreeing to be smuggled to nearby countries in the hopes for a better life. Illegal immigrants take immense risk when migrating over to a new country.
On Sunday, 23 July 2017, a United States lorry driver was arrested for the smuggling of migrants. A total of eight immigrants were found dead in the lorry, while another died in the hospital. Almost 20 other immigrants were immediately brought to the hospital due to their fatal health conditions.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus mentioned to ABC that it was an immigrant-smuggling which went south.
“We’re looking at a human-trafficking crime,” William McManus said.
“A horrific tragedy.”
According to the San Antonio Police Department, victims were being smuggled in inhumane conditions with no water and air conditioning in the harsh summer heat. The victims suffered from dehydration and heatstroke.
“Even though they have the driver in custody, I can guarantee you there’s going to be many more people we’re looking for to prosecute,” ICE acting Director Thomas Homan said to the ABC News.
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, who researches immigration and border security at UT Rio Grande Valley mentioned to NPR that “trucks provide anonymity on busy Texas highways, and packing people together means the risk is concentrated and profits are greater for smugglers”.
All the unrest caused by the so called ‘Islamic State’ in Middle East, have displaced thousands of people who are now seeking any means to escape the war. Smugglers use such circumstances as an opportunity to make quick money. They usually smuggle them through the sea to nearby countries and many of these migrant boats end up sinking.
The question here is why do such group of individuals take life threatening risks despite being aware of the dangers? Why even in the 21st century, incidents like these never seem to cease? The smuggling of immigrants is not only a human rights issue but a social issue too as it concerns one on an international level.
Lawbreakers smuggling immigrants are always looking for means to make money and do not have any empathy or sympathy for those being smuggled in terrible conditions. Smugglers often smuggle group of migrants/immigrants either across borders or within the country where they have illegal contacts.
It is nearly impossible to know the exact amount of immigrants being smuggled due to their change of circumstances. These immigrants do not have the option to seek legal channels of migration as they usually belong to low-income families.
According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), smuggled immigrants are in peril to physical abuse and being taken advantage of. Furthermore, their safety and their lives are at a high level of risk as: they may suffocate in containers, perish in deserts or drown at sea while being smuggled by profit-seeking criminals who treat them as goods.
UNDOC also states that “unemployment, war and persecution” are among many of the reasons as to why these immigrants leave their home countries. Getting to the root cause of their migration will not provide international entities a solution to end this crisis until there is international cooperation and national coordination. This is what will eventually cause a drop in the immigrant-smuggling statistics.
No one can deny that social media is a super power in today’s time. There are various self-funded and non-profit organisations, giving immigrants who were smuggled abroad a platform to tell their stories and why they took such risks. Perhaps this will one day cause an international outcry to help these individuals seeking a better life.
Most of us often take our way of life for granted, when people out there who are are just like us; end up risking their lives to seek a better one. One, which holds no promises for them.
Maria Khan Safi