The Texas Department of Public Safety, who shared the rescue mission, said the incident occurred on March 16 when the specialized group—South Texas Special Operations Group—was assisting U.S. Border Patrol agents in Roma. The highly trained group frequently carries out missions in remote areas where conventional law enforcement cannot operate to deter criminal activity, usually by drug cartels.
The child’s mother had been assaulted by smugglers in Mexico and had her leg broken in the attack, the department said.
The incident occurred amid a surge of illegal border crossings at the U.S. southern border, in particular by unaccompanied minors. While most single adults and some family units are being turned back, the Biden administration is accepting all unaccompanied minors—children who unlawfully enter the country without an adult.
The burgeoning crisis has overwhelmed border facilities and resources and has led to overcrowded facilities amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. The administration is currently seeking to build a bed capacity of 13,500 beds, with the potential for additional capacity in order to meet the continuous flow of unaccompanied minors coming across the border.
About 17,200 unaccompanied minors were in the custody of either Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or HHS as of March 29, according to the HHS Administration for Children and Families.
U.S. officials have repeatedly urged migrants to stay put in their home counties, including President Joe Biden. However, the number of border apprehensions has continued to increase. The United States also faced a sharp spike of enforcement encounters in February at 100,441 encounters compared to 78,442 in January, 74,018 in December 2020, and 72,111 in November 2020. This number went up by about 50,000 in March, with over 150,000 illegal border crossers this month, according to former CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan.
Upon taking office, Biden reversed several Trump-era immigration policies, including his predecessor’s key Migrant Protection Protocol, which sought to end the problematic “catch and release” policy and is credited for significantly stemming the flow of illegal immigrants in 2019.
This comes in the same month the CBP announced that a 9-year-old girl from Mexico drowned while trying to illegally cross into the United States. The girl was crossing the Rio Grande River with an adult woman from Guatemala and the woman’s child, a 3-year-old Mexican native.
“Border Patrol Marine Unit agents responded to assist three individuals stranded on an island on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande River. Agents found the individuals and immediately began administering first aid while transporting the migrants to shore,” CBP said in a statement.
Officials were able to revive the woman and her child but the 9-year-old remained unresponsive.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.