A Mexican child died as he tried to enter the United States by crossing the Rio Grande, US authorities said, while two parliamentary delegations went to the border on Friday to observe the conditions in the structures of the reception of young migrants arriving in record numbers.
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Agents intervened on Saturday to rescue three people found unconscious on an island in the middle of the river: a Guatemalan and her three-year-old Mexican child, as well as a nine-year-old Mexican child.
They managed to revive the woman and her child, US border guards said. The nine-year-old, whose sex and ties to the woman have not been specified, was declared dead by medical personnel.
This tragedy comes as the United States faces a sharp increase in arrivals at the border: more than 100,000 irregular migrants were arrested in February at the southern border, including nearly 20,000 family members and 10,000 unaccompanied minors.
Flows increased further in March with an average of 5,000 arrivals per day, only half of which were single adults, a senior border guard official said on Thursday on condition of anonymity.
Health rules enacted at the start of the pandemic allow the United States to immediately turn back all isolated adults as well as families.
But the United States is finding it increasingly difficult to send families back to Mexico, especially when they have young children under the age of seven.
As for minors arriving alone, they are placed in border guards’ premises, before being transferred to more suitable reception structures while waiting to locate members of their family or guardians to whom they can be entrusted.
At the moment, “we arrest more children than we transfer,” however, admitted the senior official. “We’re trying to make sure” they “have access to showers, meals and outdoor activities, but it’s a bit difficult” in some centers in Texas.
Accused by the Republicans of having created a “call for air” at the border, President Joe Biden relativized, Thursday, the situation and defended his policies.
“It’s inhumane what’s happening,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz denounced Friday, after visiting a detention center in Donna, in his state of Texas.
“And the Democrats, Joe Biden and the Biden administration made decisions that caused the suffering of these people,” he said, alongside about fifteen other Republican senators.
“We saw cages and cages, little girls and little boys,” said the former presidential candidate.
Further on the Texas border, a group of elected Democrats from the House of Representatives visited another center in Carrizo Springs.
“The conditions are terrible”, testified the head of the delegation, Joaquin Castro, while exonerating the Democratic president, who “inherited”, according to him, a complicated situation bequeathed by the Trump administration.
His delegation promised to make “recommendations” to the White House.