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Biden swipes at China with memorandum to combat illegal fishing

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© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden attends a welcoming ceremony on the first day of the G7 summit at Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 26, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday signed a national security memorandum to fight illegal fishing, part of pledged efforts to help countries combat alleged violations by fishing fleets, including those of China.

The White House said in a statement that it would also launch an alliance with Canada and the United Kingdom to “take urgent action” to improve monitoring, control, and surveillance in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

U.S. officials have vowed to introduce policies to better battle illegal fishing, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, as part of stepped up engagement with the region to counter China’s growing influence.

Some countries in the region chafe at China’s vast fishing fleet, arguing its vessels often violate their 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and cause environmental damage and economic losses.

Senior U.S. administration officials told reporters in a briefing that the memorandum directs agencies to work toward “ending human trafficking, including forced labor … while promoting safe, sustainable use of the ocean.”

The Department of Labor, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other enforcement agencies would engage with private and foreign partners to “investigate fishing vessels and operators expected to be harvesting seafood with forced labor,” the official said.

The effort was not targeted at any specific country, but the official said China was one of the largest violators.

“The PRC (People’s Republic of China) is a leading contributor to IUU fishing worldwide, and has impeded progress on the development of measures to combat IUU fishing and overfishing in international organizations,” the official said.

“The PRC has a responsibility to uphold these commitments as a flag state and actively monitor and correct … fishing fleet activities in other countries’ waters,” she said.

China’s embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

China says it is a responsible fishing country that has been cooperating internationally to clamp down on illegal fishing, and that it fishes in relevant EEZs according to bilateral agreements.

Earlier in June, the Philippines accused China of illegal fishing in its EEZ, a complaint backed by the U.S. State Department.

The U.S. Coast Guard has said illegal fishing has outpaced piracy as the top global maritime security threat, and risks heightening tensions among countries vying for overexploited fishing stocks.

U.S. Indo-Pacific policy coordinator Kurt Campbell said in May that countries in the region were cooperating to step up patrolling and training efforts, as well as sharing technologies to track vessels engaged in illegal fishing that turn off electronic transponders.

Sports & General

‘Stacks of bodies’: 46 dead migrants found in truck in Texas

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© Reuters. Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal

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By Kaylee Greenlee Beal, Kristina Cooke and Mica Rosenberg

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) -The bodies of 46 dead migrants were discovered inside a tractor-trailer on Monday in San Antonio, Texas, city officials said, in one of the most deadly recent incidents of human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border.

A San Antonio Fire Department official said they found “stacks of bodies” and no signs of water in the truck, which was found next to railroad tracks in a remote area on the city’s southern outskirts.

Sixteen other people found inside the trailer were transported to hospitals for heat stroke and exhaustion, including four minors, but no children were among the dead, the department said.

“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heat stroke, exhaustion,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told a news conference. “It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer but there was no visible working A/C unit on that rig.”

Temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 160 miles (250 km) from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) on Monday with high humidity.

The city’s Police Chief William McManus said a person who works in a nearby building heard a cry for help and came out to investigate. The worker found the trailer doors partially opened and looked inside and found a number of dead bodies.

McManus said this was the largest incident of its kind in the city and said three people were in custody following the incident, though their involvement is not yet clear.

A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE (NYSE:ICE)) said that its Homeland Security Investigations division was investigating “an alleged human smuggling event” in coordination with local police.

RECORD CROSSINGS

The deaths once again highlight the challenge of controlling migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, which have reached record highs.

The issue has proven difficult for U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat who came into office in January 2021 pledging to reverse some of the hardline immigration policies of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump. Republicans have criticized Biden’s border strategy ahead of the midterm congressional elections in November.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the suffocation of the migrants in the truck the “tragedy in Texas” on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and said consular officials would go to the hospitals where victims had been taken to help “however possible.”

A spokesman for the Honduran foreign ministry told Reuters the country’s consulates in Houston and Dallas would be investigating the incident. Ebrard said two Guatemalans were hospitalized and Guatemala’s foreign ministry said on Twitter that consular officials were going to the hospital “to verify if there are two Guatemalan minors there and what condition they are in.”

The I-35 highway near where the truck was found runs through San Antonio from the Mexican border and is a popular smuggling corridor because of the large volume of truck traffic, according to Jack Staton, a former senior official with ICE’s investigative unit who retired in December.

In July 2017, 10 migrants died after being transported in a tractor-trailer that was discovered by San Antonio police in a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) parking lot. The driver, James Matthew Bradley, Jr., was sentenced the following year to life in prison for his role in the smuggling operation.

Staton said migrants have regularly been intercepted in the area since the 2017 incident. “It was only a matter of time before a tragedy like this was going to happen again,” he said.

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Sports & General

More than 40 migrants die in truck in San Antonio, others hospitalized

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© Reuters. Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal

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By Kaylee Greenlee Beal and Ted Hesson

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) -Authorities found 46 migrants dead inside a tractor-trailer on Monday in San Antonio, Texas, the city’s fire department said, in what appears to be one of the most deadly recent incidents of human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The San Antonio Fire Department said 16 other people found inside the trailer were transported to the hospital for heat stroke and exhaustion, including four minors. Officials also said three people were in custody following the incident.

The truck was found next to railroad tracks in a remote area on the city’s southern outskirts.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the suffocation of the migrants in the truck the “tragedy in Texas” on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and said the local consulate was en route to the scene, though the nationalities of the victims had not been confirmed.

There have been a record number of migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, which has sparked criticisms of the immigration policies of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 160 miles (250 km) from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) on Monday with high humidity.

In July 2017, ten migrants died after being transported in a tractor-trailer that was discovered by San Antonio police in a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) parking lot. The driver, James Matthew Bradley, Jr., was sentenced the following year to life in prison for his role in the smuggling operation.

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Sports & General

Dozens of migrants found dead in truck in San Antonio

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© Reuters. Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal

2/2

By Kaylee Greenlee Beal and Ted Hesson

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) – At least 42 migrants were found dead inside a tractor-trailer on Monday in San Antonio, Texas, the state’s Governor Greg Abbott said, in what appears to be one of the most deadly recent incidents of human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the suffocation of the migrants in the truck the “tragedy in Texas” on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and said the local consulate was en route to the scene, though the nationalities of the victims had not been confirmed. A U.S. law enforcement official said there were more than 40 people dead without providing additional details.

The truck was found next to railroad tracks in a remote area on the city’s southern outskirts, San Antonio’s KSAT television reported.

There have been a record number of migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, which has sparked criticisms of the immigration policies of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Abbott placed the blame for the deaths on Biden’s policies on Twitter, saying they “show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”

The San Antonio police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 160 miles (250 km) from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) on Monday with high humidity.

In July 2017, ten migrants died after being transported in a tractor-trailer that was discovered by San Antonio police in a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) parking lot. The driver, James Matthew Bradley, Jr., was sentenced the following year to life in prison for his role in the smuggling operation.

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