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Border Patrol agents on Thursday rescued a four-month-old and an 18-month-old child who had been abandoned in the blistering heat of the Arizona desert — an incident officials used to highlight the brutality and “heartlessness” of people smugglers.
Yesterday, smugglers left a baby and a toddler in the Sonoran Desert to die,” said John Modlin, chief of patrol officers for the Tucson sector. ‘This is cruelty. And it’s heartbreaking.”
Modlin praised the officers for responding quickly and said the four-month-old baby was unresponsive when officers approached the children.
“Agents found that the child was unresponsive; luckily we were able to resuscitate her and prevent a tragedy,” he said. “The heartlessness of smugglers cannot be underestimated.”
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The rescue marks the latest horrific example of children being abandoned at the border by people smugglers. Unaccompanied minors rescued by Border Patrol will typically be transferred to the United States for the care of Health and Human Services. From there, they are transported across the country and united with a sponsor or parent if already in the country.
The practice of abandoning minors was highlighted last year when 5-year-old and 3-year-old sisters were rescued in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, after smugglers dropped them off the barrier and threw possessions after them.
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Border police officers regularly rescue migrants, both adults and children, who are lost or left behind in the appalling conditions on parts of the border. Texas officers on Thursday rescued two missing migrant women suffering from severe dehydration. Officers in the San Diego sector also rescued two adults, including one who was unable to walk and had been abandoned by smugglers.
It is one of the tasks faced by agents, who are faced with a constant flow of migrants to the US. No more than 2 million migrants have been encountered this fiscal year, already surpassing the historic 1.7 million from last fiscal year.
The Biden administration has sought to expand legal asylum routes and address root causes such as poverty, corruption and climate change in Central America. Republicans and some border officials have blamed the rollback of border security and domestic enforcement by the Trump-era administration.
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The National Border Patrol Council blamed the government for the situation with the two abandoned children – and also said parents face repercussions.
“Biden Admin cannot escape blame for what they are doing to our country and the human misery they inflict on the people they encourage to break our laws,” the union tweeted. “Parents of infants and toddlers who leave them in the care of cartels should be prosecuted for child abuse.”