EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Advocacy organizations in Texas are holding vigils on Thursday to honor migrants who died in search of a better life in the United States and to demand that the federal government changes its immigration policies to prevent further fatalities.

Noon vigils are scheduled in El Paso and Brownsville, Texas, while an evening event is on tap in Edinburg, Texas. A dozen migrants have drowned in El Paso canals running parallel to the border wall since June 9, while heat-related deaths have been reported this year in Arizona and elsewhere in Texas. In San Antonio, 53 migrants who spent several hours inside a sweltering semi-truck trailer box are being reported dead.

What the victims have in common is they were trying to avoid detection and apprehension while entering the United States without proper documents.

“We believe there is a clear and corresponding connection between the dramatic increase in migrant deaths and the implementation of the racist and anti-immigrant Operation Lone Star in Texas and the continuation of the Trumpist Title 42 and MPP programs along the U.S.-Mexico border,” said a statement from the Border Network for Human Rights, which is organizing the El Paso event.

At the El Paso vigil, participants plan to carry 62 crosses as part of the remembrance of those who drowned in El Paso canals and those who died in the commercial truck in San Antonio. The event is at noon MDT at 800 S. San Marcial St., behind Bowie High School.

The groups are calling for more avenues to legal migration and the restoration of the asylum process at ports of entry – curtailed because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 – and an end to “express” expulsions under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 public health order.

The Migrant Protection Protocol program (MPP) also has sent 71,000 asylum seekers back to Mexico under different iterations in the Trump and Biden administrations.

“Community participants will call for an immediate humane solution to the current broken immigration system that expands legal ways for refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors and economic workers to come legally, orderly and without violence to the United States,” BNHR said in a statement.

The groups are also calling for the legalization of more than 11 million unauthorized immigrants they refer to as “undocumented Americans.”