"There have been a number of accidents. Even if there's one fatality, there's more than there should be," said a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations. Last month, Goliad, Texas received a lot of attention when a truck carrying 23 illegal immigrants drove off of a highway and into some trees--killing 14 of the passengers. Still nine other immigrants were severely injured and rushed to hospitals.
The Texas Department of Safety is researching the accident, to see if tire failure was the cause of the crash. According to police officials, the "crash was one of the deadliest single-vehicle accidents in South Texas." One local funeral director said, "It's the worst single-vehicle wreck I've worked in my 40 years in funeral business."
Over the past few years, South Texas has notoriously been the site of many crashes that have killed illegal immigrants smuggled into the country. According to reports, while immigration across the United States-Mexico border has declined over the last few years, the South Texas border has seen an increase in activity.
The nation's most deadly immigrant smuggling accident occurred in 2003 when 19 immigrants died after being hidden in a sweltering 18-wheeler. The man responsible for the smuggling was found guilty of 38 of 58 counts, including conspiracy resulting in death. He eventually received a life in prison sentence.The dead and survivors totaled 74, although there could have been more who escaped.
In another occurrence in April, nine of 17 illegal immigrants were killed in a vehicle rollover when pursued by the U.S. Border Patrol. Even illegal immigrants have certain rights in the United States and these include:
- The right to medical attention and legal representation
- The right to financial compensation if a party was negligent
- The right to attorney-client privilege (an attorney cannot alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement about a client's citizenship status).
- Because Immigration and Customs Enforcement are told to focus on the "worst criminal offenders," it is unlikely an investigation as to a person's citizenship status will be opened
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