Her comments came in response to a question from reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday morning about the dozens of dead migrants found in a tractor-trailer in South Texas late Monday night. As of Tuesday morning, nearly 50 people had been pronounced dead at the scene.
“These deaths are on Biden,” Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) tweeted Monday night. “They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
Jean-Pierre told reporters that the White House is “closely monitoring the absolutely horrific and heartbreaking reports out of San Antonio” and that Biden is receiving regular briefings on the tragedy.
She further pledged to continue the administration’s work to disrupt “human smuggling networks” that “exploit and endanger human lives to make a profit” before defending the administration’s decision to loosen pandemic-era border protections when asked about Abbott’s comments.
“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,” Jean-Pierre stated. “Our hearts go out to the families at this time. We are going to stay focused on the facts and making sure we hold these smugglers accountable.”
Biden himself vowed to crack down on human smuggling in a statement released later on Tuesday.
“The tragic loss of life in San Antonio, Texas that took place yesterday is horrifying and heartbreaking. Our prayers are with those who lost their lives, their loved ones, as well as those still fighting for their lives. As always, I am grateful for the swift work of all of the Federal, state, and local first responders,” the president wrote. “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.”
“This incident underscores the need to go after the multi-billion dollar criminal smuggling industry preying on migrants and leading to far too many innocent deaths,” he closed. “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.“
You can listen to Tuesday’s entire gaggle below.