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Houston residents gather to mourn victims in San Antonio 18-wheeler

People gathered at a vigil in Houston to pay their respects to the victims found inside the tractor-trailer in San Antonio.

HOUSTON — In Houston on Tuesday night, a group gathered outside FIEL's offices on the southwest side to honor the 51 lives lost in the San Antonio migrant tragedy.

RELATED: 51 migrants found dead in tractor-trailer in San Antonio, officials say

Participants carried 51 signs for the victims.

"I cannot believe this has happened again," Marta Olivera said.

Every year in May, Olivera makes the trip down to South Texas to remember the 19 lives lost in a 2003 smuggling incident. Olivera told KHOU 11 she will never forget assisting the families and meeting a mother who identified her son from his shoes.

RELATED: Death is a constant risk for undocumented migrants entering Texas

"'How many more?' is my question," she said.

“When there’s no pathway to legal immigration, people resort to desperate circumstances and resolution to try and get here for a better life," immigration attorney Mana Yegani said.

She said becoming a citizen is a process that can take 20 years.

“For Mexicans, right now, U.S. immigration officials are processing cases that were filed in 1998," Yegani said.

She said the tragedy in San Antonio is a reminder of a broken system.

RELATED: A look at the deadliest migrant suffocation incidents

“It has to reach such tragic levels where people die desperately this way in the heat for maybe the government to wake up to realize we need a practical solution for both sides," Yegani said.

The 51 signs will eventually have the names of each victim. FIEL organizers said they plan to drive them to San Antonio to show their support.

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