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Driver Who Killed Asylum-Seekers Charged With Manslaughter

The Texas SUV driver who crashed into a group of asylum-seekers near a migrant shelter Sunday was identified by police as 34-year-old George Alvarez. Eight people died and 10 others were injured in Brownsville, a city of 187,000 on the U.S.-Mexico border, NPR reports. The incident occurred around 8:30 a.m. Sunday at a bus stop outside the Ozanam Center. Brownsville Police Chief Felix Sauceda said Alvarez was charged him with eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. "Through the investigation, it was found that the SUV ran a red light, lost control, flipped on its side, and struck a total of 18 individuals," he said. Sauceda said authorities were not ruling out the possibility that the crash was intentional. Police were awaiting toxicology results to determine if Alvarez was impaired. Alvarez, a Brownsville local who Sauceda said has an "extensive rap sheet," apparently tried to flee after hitting the group but was held down by several bystanders.

Victor Maldonado, executive director of the Ozanam Center, said the victims were asylum-seekers. "They came seeking refuge. They were staying at our shelter because they arrived in this country with very little," Maldonado said. A community mass was held Sunday near the crash site. "I cannot describe the heartache I feel at hearing the news from this morning, not just as an advocate for the rights of migrants, but as a resident of Brownsville," said Rochelle Garza, president of the Texas Civil Rights Project In the U.S. people can seek asylum if they fear they could be persecuted in their home country for social characteristics such as their race, religion, or political opinion. Maldonado said the shelter had already received "a number of hate messages" and that its primary focus now is to provide counseling to witnesses and survivors, including children.


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