The tragic story of the 10 immigrants who died Sunday inside a hot tractor-trailer in San Antonio has shocked the nation. A moment that should serve as a wake-up call to recognize the humanity behind the U.S. immigration crisis, KRGV has instead chosen to organize a publicity stunt to simulate conditions migrants died in.
On early Sunday morning, dozens of undocumented immigrants were found inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, as reported by multiple outlets. The trailer, without any AC, reached fatal temperatures and left 10 people dead and many in critical condition.
It was predictable that politicians would be opportunistic about this tragedy to push their own agendas. What was not so predictable was for KRGV reporter Frank McCaffrey to pull a stunt on Monday by locking himself in a tractor-trailer in Weslaco, Texas, with a photographer to “simulate” or test how hot it could get and run the segment as a regular advisory of heat exhaustion risks without making any mention of the dead immigrants.
The segment is only two and a half minutes, but there is a lot to unpack.
“Well in the summer temperatures, symptoms of heat exhaustion could show in just minutes,” the KRGV news anchor states just before showing McCaffrey’s story.
The video then cuts to McCaffrey standing in front of trailers holding a comically large thermometer explaining that earlier that morning he spent 30 minutes inside a trailer with no AC to test the “effects of the heat.” The remainder of the hard-to-watch video shows scenes of McCaffrey walking around the inside of the trailer sweating profusely through his purple button up shirt and tie as he is followed by a photographer who had to endure his stunt.
McCaffrey explained that although it was “frightening” to go inside, they “played it safe” by having paramedics at the scene waiting outside the trailer.
Throughout this video, McCaffrey complains about the heat and says he is “dreaming” of the bottle of water waiting for him outside.
Once outside, McCaffrey mentions that his heart rate and blood pressure were up.
“Now, of course, the situation could have been more dangerous had we spent more time in the trailer,” he concludes.
The segment ends with a sweaty and red-faced McCaffrey with absolutely no mention of the tragedy that happened just the day before.
The first question is, What the hell is the point of this story? Did KRGV really just try to make a PSA on heat exhausting by exploiting the death of immigrants? Or is this just a calculated publicity stunt? For McCaffrey to mimic the conditions in which 10 people died without making any mention of them is appalling and disgustingly opportunistic.
Additionally, Who needed to see some sweaty reporter get into a trailer for 30 minutes to tell us it gets dangerously hot in there when 10 immigrants just died as a result of exposure to such conditions? And if that is not appalling enough, for KRGV to not make any mention of the dead immigrants while using their tragedy for more views shows a complete disregard from the station to the extreme realities of immigrants.
There is no way KRGV can separate this stunt from the deadly event that happened just the day before this segment ran. As a news station on the border in a community largely run by immigrants, there are plenty of alternatives for them to have covered and contextualized this in a more productive way.
In a time when lawmakers are weighing options for a border wall, mass deportations, and immigration raids, this story fell short on positively representing the Rio Grande Valley in these national and state-wide legislative conversations.