President Biden’s executive order raises questions over frequency of illegal crossings amid Bexar County smuggling bust

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – Bexar County Sheriff’s Office deputies discovered 26 migrants in a suspected human smuggling operation on Thursday.

News of the operation comes less than 48 hours after President Joe Biden’s executive order that limits asylum seekers went into effect.

Sheriff Javier Salazar called it a “big money” operation that is cartel-related. Deputies found the people at a home on Oak Island Drive near South Loop 1604 and Applewhite Drive in south Bexar County.

Out of the 26 people, 11 were taken to the hospital with minor, heat-related injuries. Deputies also arrested seven others in connection to the alleged smuggling operation.

“The quick concern for us became what their medical condition (was) like,” Salazar said. “We think everybody’s out of the woods, as far as losing their life.”

During a news conference, the sheriff couldn’t confirm where every person was from. He acknowledged one woman is from Guatemala.

Salazar said the 26 people were crammed in the bottom of a trailer to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. He said they were taken into a small home on Oak Island Drive where deputies made the bust.

One day earlier, the sheriff held a press conference breaking down Biden’s new policy on immigration.

“I think it’s a good start,” Salazar said Wednesday. “I think we can start to refine it a bit as we move forward.”

Under that new policy, after seven straight days of more than 2,500 people a day being stopped at the border, anyone claiming asylum — who didn’t schedule their arrival with customs and border protection — will automatically be turned away.

Those restrictions will be in effect until after the number of border apprehensions drops below 1,500 crossing per day for two consecutive weeks.

The policy is aimed at fighting illegal immigration, but people from both major parties criticized it. Fred Schellenberg, the director of the American Organization for Immigrants in San Antonio, is questioning if it will work.

“I suspect we’re going to receive more people coming in without documentation. And what does that mean? That means that people are going to be willing to take risks and risks,” Schellenberg said.

Schellenberg said he doesn’t expect border crossings to stop. Instead, he expects them to change with the new policy.

Schellenberg said he’s worried more unsafe conditions could be present, which could lead to more human smuggling operations.

“I don’t know that cities like San Antonio are going to have all the resources to help these folks,” Schellenberg said.

Salazar said finding these 26 people is an important step to address an ongoing immigration issue.

Thursday’s discovery was made just days away from the two-year anniversary of the Quintana Road tragedy.

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