Communities across Texas are remembering the eight migrants who were horrifically killed after they were hit by a speeding driver in Brownsville on Sunday. The victims had been waiting at a bus stop outside a local shelter that serves migrants and unhoused people when they were hit by the driver, who also injured ten others. Some of the migrants who tragically lost their lives had been holding plane tickets to reunite with loved ones in the U.S., TPR reported.
Late Sunday, local advocates and community members held the first of a number of vigils remembering those lost. “Our community members are grieving the 8 lives lost today and leaving flowers at the bus stop outside the Ozanam Center in Brownsville, TX,” tweeted Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative. Photos showed grieving community members also placing balloons and religious candles at the memorial.
Community members grieving the 8 lives lost today and leaving candles at the bus stop outside the Ozanam Center pic.twitter.com/93kfXroWz2
— Another Gulf Is Possible (@AnotherGulf_) May 8, 2023
Vigil is happening right now at Ozanam Center in Brownsville, TX, for the 7 people murdered this morning. Border Workers United is hosting another vigil here tomorrow at 10:00 AM
The website for info about donations is https://t.co/GU3CGBMwXm pic.twitter.com/LB4ZcnK7uO
— Another Gulf Is Possible (@AnotherGulf_) May 8, 2023
Community members also held a mass that was officiated by Bishop Daniel Flores of the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, The Guardian reported. “In the outdoor courtyard of the center, Flores spoke in Spanish to those gathered, many of them who had migrated from troubled Venezuela, noting how migrants feel driven to reach the border and seek refuge and security in the US,” the report said. “‘I’ve met 15-year-olds that leave the other side of the world,” Bishop Flores told mourners.
Faith-based newspaper The Tablet said that victims had stayed the night at the shelter and were waiting for a bus to take them to downtown Brownsville to continue on their journeys. Borderland organizations are often the first to welcome newly-arrived migrants processed and released by federal immigration officials, and help them with everything from a meal, to shelter, to a bus ticket.
While the names of the eight victims are not yet publicly known, their stories are likely much like those of migrants that journey to the southern border everyday in search of better lives. In a statement reported by The Tablet, Bishop Flores urged communities to take a moment to mourn those lost and, importantly, to continue “our common efforts to serve those most in need.” Donations to help cover victims’ medical and funeral costs can be made at Ozanam Center’s website here. FWD.us has also highlighted further Brownsville border region organizations that provide direct help.
“As we await a fuller report from law enforcement authorities, let us stop for a moment to mourn these losses of life and to pray,” Bishop Flores said in the statement. “Pray for the victims, pray for their families and loved ones, and pray for our community. And after we pray, let us continue our common efforts to serve those most in need.”
Vigils continued into Monday at the Ozanam Center, with mourners again gathering to memorialize victims in a vigil organized by Border Workers United. “We join in pain and our Solidarity and Support to Migrant and Refugee Families impacted by this attack,” the organization said in a Facebook post.
Vigil right now in Brownsville, Texas, where driver plowed into group outside migrant shelter pic.twitter.com/knaXGATwKy
— Gabe Gutierrez (@gabegutierrez) May 8, 2023
Vigil has moved across the street from the Ozanam Center. This is where 8 people were killed, another 12 critically injured, yesterday morning. pic.twitter.com/xbNiVIo4XK
— Gaige Davila (@GaigeDavila) May 8, 2023
In Austin, La Unión Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and Austin groups plan to gather at the south steps of the state capitol Monday evening “to honor the memory of the lives lost in Brownsville and demand an end to policies that dehumanize immigrants,” Grassroots Leadership tweeted.
Join us and other community organizations in a vigil to honor the memory of the lives lost in Brownsville and demand an end to policies that dehumanize immigrants.
The vigil will take place on the south steps of the Capitol this Monday, May 8 at 7 PM. pic.twitter.com/yZ2y4LQHiO
— Grassroots Leadership (@Grassroots_News) May 7, 2023
While details around the deadly crash are still emerging, some reports have said that witnesses to the crash heard the driver yell anti-immigrant remarks immediately following the incident. This has so far not yet been verified by authorities, who are still working to determine whether or not the crash was intentional. What is without question is that anti-immigrant rhetoric by right-wing politicians has been alarmingly on the rise. In fact, House Republicans have plans to vote on an extreme anti-asylum bill this week.
Today we mourn the lives lost near a migrant shelter in Brownsville, Texas who had come to the U.S. in search of a better life.
Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by this horrific tragedy pic.twitter.com/ZYRB0FJ9G9
— America's Voice (@AmericasVoice) May 8, 2023
“While we await further details on both horrific incidents in Texas and as we embark on a landmark week on immigration policy, we ask everyone to first and foremost reflect on the humanity and real lives affected by violence and policies at our southern border,” America’s Voice executive director Vanessa Cárdenas said in a statement Monday. “Early reports offer the troubling possibility that Allen and Brownsville will join El Paso, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Charlottesville as locations forever linked to hate-filled violence.”
“We call on politicians and media to stop the vilification of immigrants,” the RGV Welcoming Committee said in a statement. “Above all, people like those harmed today are human beings with hopes and dreams. We ask for an end to mischaracterizing our border communities as unsafe and unwelcoming. We also deplore the pretense that forcing migrants fleeing violence in their homelands to wait in dangerous northern Mexico is a humane or secure option.”