U.S. Border Patrol agents (CBP) said on Wednesday that they had rescued an 8-year-old boy who had been abandoned in the New Mexico desert.
The boy is the third unaccompanied migrant child to be abandoned in New Mexico in a week. Two toddlers were dropped over a border barrier at a height of about 14 feet in the middle of the New Mexico desert by human smugglers last week. The children have since been rescued by border patrol.
The 8-year-old was found by a group of migrants who took him in as they made their way through the desert to the U.S. border. Agents from the Lordsburg Border Patrol station were alerted to the group from a concerned citizen who requested assistance. The group and the child were located more than seven miles from the nearest road or residence, CBP said.
A woman in the group told agents that they had found the child walking aimlessly through the desert by himself.
“Thankfully, a mother found the unaccompanied minor and took him in as they made their way through the desert to the border,” El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez said in a statement.
“We find that Transnational Criminal Organizations routinely attempt to smuggle people in groups but often end up abandoning the women and children in remote areas where they are left in great danger and to fend for themselves when they can’t keep up with the group. They are often left with no food or water. I am very relieved to know they are all safe now.”
All individuals were examined by medical staff at the Lordsburg station and the child was sent to the El Paso Sector Central Processing Center and will eventually be transferred to Health and Human Services’ care.
Amid a burgeoning humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border, border patrol agents and local authorities have reported appalling incidents of human smugglers leaving unaccompanied children at the border or in the Rio Grande river, and other devastating events.
CBP said that a 9-year-old girl had drowned while she tried to cross the Rio Grande River illegally into the United States last month. She was traveling with an adult woman and her 3-year-old child.
Similarly, a special tactical team operating along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas said that agents rescued a 6-month-old baby who had been thrown off a raft into the Rio Grande River by smugglers also in March.
For the month of March, CBP agents encountered over 172,000 illegal immigrants, according to statistics released on April 8. This is up from just over 101,000 individuals encountered in February.
Among those who crossed illegally into the United States last month were over 18,800 unaccompanied minors, which is double the number of minors who illegally arrived in the United States in February at over 9,300 encounters.
The Biden administration has been opening up emergency holding facilities to address the significant surge of illegal border crossings in recent weeks. It is seeking to build capacity for 13,500 beds, with the potential for additional capacity in order to meet what has been a continuous flow of unaccompanied minors coming across the border.