The Border Patrol says one of its agents rescued a baby and toddler left alone by migrant smugglers at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in western Arizona. A migrant at a border crossing group arrested Thursday west of the Lukeville, Arizona, warned an officer of the children’s location.
An 18 month old was then found crying and a 4 month old was discovered face down and unresponsive. Both have received medical attention at a hospital and have been taken back into custody by border police.
“Yesterday, smugglers left two young children — a baby and a toddler — in the Sonoran Desert to die,” John Modlin, head of the Tucson Sector Border Patrol, said in a statement. “This is not just another example of smugglers exploiting migrants for money. This is cruelty.”
It was not immediately clear whether the smugglers accused of abandoning the children were among those arrested. Authorities have not released details about the children, including their gender, which country they came from and the identities of their parents or guardians.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument stretches along the Mexican border in southwestern Arizona, a rugged, arid landscape dotted with towering cacti and other desert flora. It is about 130 miles southwest of Phoenix.
Due to its remoteness, the 517 square kilometer park is a favorite crossing point for some smugglers. Human remains of suspected border trespassers are often found in the area.
While high temperatures at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument regularly reach triple digits in the summer, they peaked on Thursday in the 1990s amid cooler monsoons.
The officer who found the children began emergency care for the child while waiting for Border Patrol and National Park Service medical technicians.
An ambulance took the children to a hospital for additional medical care. The children were later returned to Border Patrol officials, who tried to rush them into the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the care of migrant children who are picked up in the US without families.
The Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector says it has seen a 12% increase in the number of unaccompanied minors smuggled across the border in the past fiscal year.
Overall, however, the US has seen a decline in the number of legal and illegal border crossings over the past two months, according to federal data released two weeks ago.
During the pandemic, Title 42, also known as the “Stay in Mexico” policy, prevented many migrants from crossing the border legally — forcing them to wait in Mexico while their cases were heard. As a result, some people who wanted to migrate to the US resorted to other methods.
Illegal border crossings have historically been dangerous for migrants. But in the past year, there have been several deadly incidents where smugglers tried to get people into the US. In June, 53 people died after being left in a tractor-trailer in the scorching Texas heat. Two months earlier, more than a dozen migrants were injured in a rollover crash in the same state.
The US government has been heavily criticized not only in the wake of such incidents, but also for waiving certain restrictions on letting both Afghan and Ukrainian refugees into the country.
In an interview with TSTIME News’ Camilo Montoya-Galvez earlier this month, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus said the Biden administration is committed to creating a “fair and equitable” system for asylum seekers.
“Our goal is certainly to be able to process all vulnerable populations in a fair and equitable way,” Magnus said. “I think this is something we will continue to work towards. It can be very challenging depending on the circumstances.”
Magnus acknowledged that migrants driven to Mexico face “very difficult” conditions, but he said every nationality arriving at the US’s southern border faces “specific circumstances”, noting that Ukrainians face armed conflict in their territory. fleeing home country.
“We’re talking about different populations from different countries with different needs that need to be processed differently,” he said. “Many factors are involved. What works for one population does not necessarily work for all.”
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