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San Antonio Deaths Prompt Compassion, Gamesmanship From Texas Politicians

David Martin Davies
Texas Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro speaks at a vigil held for those found in the trailer on Sunday, July 23, 2017.

The tragic heat deaths of 10 people being illegally transported from Laredo to San Antonio prompted compassion and political gamesmanship from Texas politicos.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick posted on his Facebook profile Sunday afternoon that the tragic deaths associated with the illegal transportation of dozens of people including many Mexican nationals in a semitrailer highlighted exactly why he pushed for Senate Bill 4 – the controversial "sanctuary cities" law that sets punitive measures for cities that prohibit local law enforcement from enforcing federal immigration laws.

"Sanctuary cities entice people to believe they can come to America and Texas and live outside the law,” he said in the post.

“We need to control who comes here. Those who come here we want they to come in dignity, and not to have live in the shadows and embrace our country,” Lt. Gov. Patrick said Monday on Austin's KVUE-TV, adding that Congress needs to revamp the immigration process.

San Antonio joined a lawsuit to fight SB-4 and Mayor Ron Nirenberg says the law would have changed nothing.

“Well, let’s be clear. SB-4 is about forcing local law enforcement to do the job of federal authorities in a policy environment that is broken," Gov. Nirenberg said. "SB-4 isn’t a solution for any of this.”  

Both political parties were talking about the broken immigration system.

"This is partly a system of a broken immigration system," said San Antonio U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro at Sunday night's vigil for those who died. "Congress was close to doing something about that a few years ago."

Via Twitter, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn advocated for stronger border security, tweeting "Border security will help prevent this Texas tragedy."

Cornyn was criticized by San Antonio Democratic State Rep. Justin Rodriguez for not acknowledging the hardships people were fleeing, saying tragedies like this are often used to make political points.

"Unfortunately I think that happens no matter what the issue is of the day, right? I think we're in a world now where social media, real-time responses — there are folks out there who will try to do that."

Rodriguez says he doesn't know what Cornyn's intent was, but focusing on the tragedy and not the politics is what is needed.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive