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Immigration advocate: Title 42 expulsions fueling dangerous crossings

At lease three people died when the suspected smuggling boat broke apart on rocks at Point Loma.

SAN DIEGO — At least three people were killed, and 29 people injured Sunday, when a suspected smuggling boat broke apart on the rocks of Point Loma.

In March, 13 people died in Holtville, when a semi-truck plowed into a SUV carrying 25 passengers.

Border Patrol agents in San Diego pointed out the dangers of crossing into the United States illegally.

“The reality is crossing the border illegally is unsafe no matter the method, especially at sea,” said San Diego Border Patrol supervisor Jeff Stephenson.

“The smugglers, they don’t care about the people they're exploiting.  All they care about is profit,” said Stephenson.

Jeff Stephenson talks about suspected smuggling boat crash - May 2, 2021:

Following the tragic incident at Point Loma, immigration advocates are renewing their call for an end to Title 42 expulsions at the border.

“People are much more desperate, much more frustrated about a lack of opportunity to present themselves. And, that's why they are seeking other ways that are much more dangerous to cross into the U.S.,” said Pedro Rios, with American Friends Service Committee.

Rios said migrants want to surrender and claim asylum legally, but the Border Patrol quickly expels them under Title 42, pandemic public-health orders.

“The reality is that the U.S. government could restore the asylum process.  They could remove the Title 42 order and prevent people from having to choose these dangerous routes,” said Rios.

The suspected smuggler operating the boat likely will be prosecuted in the United States.

Ironically, some of the passengers will likely be allowed to stay in the country now, so they can testify against the smuggler in court.

News 8 reached out to ICE and Homeland Security seeking information about the immigration history of the passengers, as well as the current status of the passengers.

Spokesperson Marcus Johnson with ICE emailed back, writing: 

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is currently investigating the incident; however, there is no updated information I can provide at this time.”

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