Last Thursday, a Border Patrol agent driving in the Rio Grande Valley found a migrant child in distress, with the distraught boy telling the official that the group he'd been traveling with had abandoned him.
Their interaction was recorded, and in the video, the 10-year-old is seen crying as he explains that he hadn't been with his parents. Customs and Border Protection told NBC News the boy was found on a rural road near La Grulla, Texas, and he told the agent that he fell asleep and when he woke up, the rest of the group was gone. The boy, a migrant from Nicaragua, is safe, Customs and Border Protection said, and will soon be transferred from a Border Patrol facility to a shelter run by the Department of Health and Human Services.
NBC News reports that as of Monday, there are roughly 19,000 unaccompanied migrant children in Health and Human Services and Customs and Border Protection custody, with many having to stay in overcrowded Border Patrol facilities for longer than the 72 hours mandated by law. There has been an overall rise in Central American migrants arriving at the southern border, fleeing poverty, crime, violence, and extreme weather.
President Biden said his administration's policy is to turn away most migrants at the border, with the exception of minors, stating last month that the "only people we are not going to let sit there on the other side of the Rio Grande by themselves with no help are children." Recently, there have been several small children rescued along the southern border, including a 6-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl discovered Monday in a rugged area near Jacumba, California. Their mother's name and phone number was written on their arms and they carried a note with her contact information as well.
In a statement, Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said it is "unconscionable that anyone would abandon these small children, and those responsible for smuggling events like this will be aggressively prosecuted."