Border Patrol agents picked up a four-year-old girl on the U.S. side of the southwest border, near Mt. Signal, California, on March 12.
The girl was found standing alone on a patrol road with her birth certificate and information about the location of the her parents, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement. The girl did not need medical attention.
Agents from the El Centro station had seen individuals illegally crossing into the United States and when investigating, they saw someone return to Mexico, then enter a vehicle that quickly left the area. That’s when they found the girl.
“Who in their right mind abandons a four-year-old little girl in the middle of a vast desert,” stated Assistant Chief Patrol Agent David S. Kim. “It sickens me to think that someone would leave a child that young to fend for herself.”
The child, a Guatemalan citizen, was transported to the El Centro station and given some food before being turned over to Health and Human Services to await her immigration status disposition, CBP said.
The U.S. Border Patrol says parents who illegally try to smuggle their children into the United States should be aware that they are putting the lives of their children in the hands of criminals.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said recently that human smugglers have bumped up their fees for illegal southwest border crossings, largely in response to the changes in U.S. policy
“Since Nov. 2016, ‘coyotes’ have hiked their fees in some areas by roughly 130 percent—from $3,500 to $8,000 in certain mountainous regions,” Kelly said in a March 8 statement.