EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The highly publicized migrant surge of 2019 brought a record number of unaccompanied minors to Far West Texas and Southern New Mexico. Fiscal year 2021 still has two weeks to go but has already far surpassed that tally.
Border Patrol agents since Oct. 1 have taken custody of 20,950 minors from Central America and elsewhere in the El Paso Sector. That’s more than the 16,159 encountered in fiscal year 2019.
Many of those kids are under the age of 12 and are being smuggled and subsequently abandoned at the border by members of transnational criminal organizations that have taken over much of the activity on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the Border Patrol.
Late last month, for instance, agents from the Ysleta station spotted 20 migrant children walking north of the border barrier near the Rio Grande levee and parallel canals.
“The poor visibility, swift currents and high-water levels posed a real danger to the children falling and drowning,” the Border Patrol said in a statement. “Agents identified all the UCs as being citizens of Guatemala. The youngest person in the group was a 12-year-old girl.”
Those children received medical evaluations, food, showers and clothing before the Department of Health and Human Services took custody of them.
Since then, border agents have come across numerous other groups of unaccompanied minors ranging in age from 5 to 17 years old.
What’s happening here is not unique to the El Paso Sector, which includes all of New Mexico. The Border Patrol says its agents this fiscal year have encountered 130,710 unaccompanied children along the entire Southern border.
“These pictures represent the sad reality of what is transpiring at the border,” said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez. “Transnational Criminal Organizations continue to exploit the most vulnerable population – children from foreign countries. They are responsible for placing the lives of thousands of unaccompanied children at risk by manipulating their parents and later abandoning their children at the border.”
The callousness of the cartels has been evident in El Paso. A late March surveillance video released by the Border Patrol shows two smugglers dropping a girl from Ecuador age 3 and later her 5-year-old sister from atop the border wall, then running back to Mexico. The girls were found and rescued by border agents and later reunited with their parents in New York City.