Biden rebukes ‘political grandstanding’ after Republicans blame him for migrant deaths
President Biden on Tuesday mourned the death of dozens of migrants found in a semitruck in San Antonio while rebuking “political grandstanding around tragedy” after Republicans blamed his immigration policies for the loss of life.
“Our prayers are with those who lost their lives, their loved ones, as well as those still fighting for their lives,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House, calling the situation “horrifying” and “heartbreaking.” “As always, I am grateful for the swift work of all of the Federal, state, and local first responders.”
“While we are still learning all the facts about what happened and the Department of Homeland Security has the lead for the investigation, initial reports are that this tragedy was caused by smugglers or human traffickers who have no regard for the lives they endanger and exploit to make a profit,” the president said.
Biden said his administration was working to disrupt human smuggling networks, noting a new anti-smuggling operation that he launched earlier this month during a trip to Los Angeles.
The statement also appeared to take aim at Republicans like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott who have blamed the administration’s policies for the death toll. Abbott in a tweet posted Monday accused Biden of causing the deaths by embracing “open border policies.”
“Exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy, and my Administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry,” Biden said in the statement.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also pushed back on the accusations from Republicans earlier Tuesday, telling reporters aboard Air Force One: “The fact of the matter is the border is closed which is in part why you see people trying to make this dangerous journey using smuggling networks.”
Police said 50 people were found dead in a refrigerated tractor-trailer near San Antonio on Monday night, with another 16 migrants, including four children, taken to the hospital for critical care. Three individuals were arrested in connection to the incident and an investigation has been turned over the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
Biden, who is traveling in Europe for G7 and NATO meetings, was briefed on the situation while abroad and is expected to receive regular updates, Jean-Pierre said.