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Girl, 4, detained by CBP agents after she arrived alone in Texas aboard a raft with 35 migrants


An unaccompanied four-year-old girl was taken into custody by a unit of border agents in Texas after she illegally crossed over from Mexico on a raft with a group of migrants. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the child, a native of El Salvador, was among the 36 undocumented immigrants who were spotted on the shore of the Rio Grande in Hidalgo, Texas, on Monday.

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Sector were able to identify the traveling party, which included families and other children who were also unaccompanied, before they encountered the girl.

Agents found on her a note which contained the contact information of her father, who is living in the United States. The child was also wearing a coat with her father’s phone number scribbled inside.

U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector placed several unaccompanied minors into custody after they were found traveling alone with other families who were intercepted on the Hidalgo, Texas, shore of the Rio Grande on Monday

This unaccompanied four-year-old girl was found with  her father’s phone number written on her clothes

CBP said the agents reached out to the father, who confirmed that the child’s mother had abandoned her in Mexico before she was rafted over to the United States.

‘Medical staff evaluated the child and determined she did not need medical care at the time of the evaluation,’ the agency said in a press release.  

The child was processed by CBP in accordance with federal immigration laws.

A CBP spokesperson issued a statement to indicating the agency normally works with the home country of minors who are unaccompanied and places them in the custody of government officials to ‘reunite them with their families quickly and safely, if possible.’ 

‘CBP also may, on a case-by-case basis, such as when return to the home country is not possible or an agent suspects trafficking or sees signs of illness, except any alien from the CDC order,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Minors excepted from the CDC order who are encountered without a parent or legal guardian will be processed as unaccompanied alien children under Title 8 and will be turned over to HHS [Health & Human Services]/ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement]. During any time spent in CBP facilities, minors processed under either Title 42 or Title 8 will receive amenities and services consistent with applicable law and policy.’  

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday to stop expelling immigrant children who cross the southern border alone, halting a policy that has resulted in thousands of rapid deportations of minors during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Under President Trump, at least 8,800 unaccompanied children have been removed since March under Title 42 of the United States Code Section 265, when it issued an emergency declaration citing the COVID-19 pandemic as grounds for barring most people crossing the border from remaining in the United States. 

Border agents have forced many people to return to Mexico right away, while detaining others in holding facilities or hotels, sometimes for days or weeks. Meanwhile, government-funded facilities meant to hold children while they are placed with sponsors have thousands of unused beds. 

While conducting surveillance of the United States-Mexico border in Texas in late October, CBP agents from the Fort Brown Station found a Venezuelan woman with a three-year-old girl from Hondurans on the U.S. riverbanks of the Rio Grande after crossing on a raft. The 30-year-old woman told the agents the human traffickers in Mexico handed her the child and told her to go ‘north.’ The CBP agents found a Minnie Mouse t-shirt (pictured) that included the name of a person and phone number, too. The child was placed in custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement

President Donald Trump’s administration has drawn constant criticism for its tough stance on migration at the southern border with Mexico. Pictured above are children at the Rio Grande Valley Centralized Processing Center in Rio Grande City, Texas, on June 17, 2018

Sullivan’s order bars only the expulsion of children who cross the border unaccompanied by a parent. The government has expelled more than 147,000 people since March, including adults, and parents and children traveling together. 

An October 20 ACLU court filing called on the Trump administration to step up its efforts in locating the parents of more than 500 children after they were separated at the Mexico-United States border. 

The separations took place throughout 2017 as Trump sought to crackdown on unlawful border crossings at the souther border.  

NBC reported that more than 1,000 parents were separated from their children, during a ‘pilot program’, which ran between April and  December 2017. 

There were at least ’22 children who were one year old and 28 children who were two years old.’

The Trump administration has also come under fire for the conditions inside the detention center where children have been held in what human right’s advocacy groups have described as inhumane conditions.

In October, the The Washington Post accessed a 70-page report, “Do My Rights Matter? The Mistreatment of Unaccompanied Children in CBP Custody”, which included  interviews with nearly 9,500 minors who were apprehended and detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection last year. 

As many as 895 children accused CBP agents of verbally abusing them and 147 indicated they experienced physical abuse.  

A child from Honduras, identified as Elena, said CBP officers placed her in shackles and told her she would never see her son. When she tried to obtain a blanket for him, the agents at the holding center screamed at her. 

File image from July 17, 2019 shows a Border Patrol agent at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Donna, Texas, holding a migrant child who was intercepted after attempting to enter the country with a male individual who lied and said the child his son

In October, CBP released final data detailing how detentions of unaccompanied children rose throughout fiscal year 2020, spiking from 712 in April to 3,756 in September.

On October 22, border agents encountered a 30-year-old Venezuelan woman with a three-year-old girl from Honduras on the U.S. riverbanks of the Rio Grande after crossing on a raft. 

The 30-year-old woman told the agents the Fort Brown Station that human traffickers in Mexico handed her the child and told her to go ‘north.’ The CBP agents found a Minnie Mouse t-shirt on the girl with the name of a person and phone number written on it.

The child was placed in custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement

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