Two toddlers who were dropped over a border barrier late Tuesday in the middle of the New Mexico desert have been rescued by U.S. Border Patrol.
A camera operator at the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, port of entry witnessed the incident over security camera of the area, which was in a remote location. In the video, a human smuggler could be seen dropping the two toddlers from the top of the border barrier at a height of about 14 feet.
“Immediately after both children landed on the ground, two smugglers immediately fled the area and abandoned the helpless little girls on the north side of the international boundary line,” the U.S. Border Patrol announced.
The video of the incident was shared on Twitter by El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez.
“I’m appalled by the way these smugglers viciously dropped innocent children from a 14-foot border barrier last night. If not for the vigilance of our Agents using mobile technology, these two tender-aged siblings would have been exposed to the harsh elements of desert environment for hours,” she said in a statement.
“We are currently working with our law enforcement partners in Mexico and attempting to identify these ruthless human smugglers so as to hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Santa Teresa agents came to the rescue after the camera operator informed them about the incident. The toddlers were found to be 3 and 5-year-old Ecuadorian sisters. Both were alert when the agents found them.
They were sent to the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station for medical checks, and later were sent to a local hospital for further checks. They were medically cleared and are currently in a Border Patrol temporary holding facility, pending placement by Health and Human Services (HHS).
The incident follows a separate border rescue on March 16, when Texas rangers saved a 6-month-old baby who had been thrown off a raft into the Rio Grande River by smugglers. The Rio Grande acts as a natural border in some parts of Texas.
Border Patrol announced earlier this month the death of a 9-year-old girl who drowned while she tried to cross the Rio Grande River illegally into the United States. Two others, an adult woman and her 3-year-old child, were traveling with the girl.
The latest incidents have occurred amid a dramatic increase in illegal border crossings, including by unaccompanied minors, at the U.S.-Mexico border. The situation has proven to be a humanitarian crisis that’s seen overcrowded temporary holding facilities and concerns over the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus among the illegal immigrants held there.
Since taking office, President Joe Biden has reversed a number of border policies from the Trump administration, including pausing border wall construction and announcing the removal of the “Remain in Mexico” policy—which required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while awaiting immigration proceedings.
Biden and other U.S. officials have repeatedly urged migrants to refrain from illegally crossing the border into the United States. Despite this, the number of illegal crossings at the southern border has been on the rise since October 2020.
The number of arrests from October 2020 to January 2021 was 296,259, representing a 79.5 percent increase from the same period last year, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data. In February, the CBP apprehended 100,441 aliens who crossed the southern border illegally.
While adults and family units are still being expelled from the United States, the Biden administration has been accepting all unaccompanied minors—children who unlawfully enter the country without an adult.
About 11,900 children were in HHS shelters and nearly 5,800 children were in Border Patrol custody as of March 28. To reduce overcrowding, the administration is rapidly expanding emergency influx shelters and surveying military bases to host unaccompanied minors.
Reuters contributed to this report