Early Wednesday morning, Border Patrol agents encountered two Guatemalan brothers, ages two and six, who had crossed into the U.S. without their families, with the names and phone numbers of their American contacts written on their T-shirts.
The boys were part of a larger group of 18 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and Cuba that agents encountered near La Grulla, Texas, in the state’s far south Rio Grande Valley area.
“Many of the unaccompanied children encountered by the Border Patrol are very young and cannot provide names or phone numbers of family members,” the agency he said in a press release.
Finding adequate contacts for such unaccompanied migrants means “agents must rely on information written on clothing or handwritten notes found among their belongings, adults within the group and/or their home country consulate,” the Border Patrol continued.
This year, the Border Patrol has encountered roughly 140,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed into the U.S., according to government statistics.
When federal officials encounter unaccompanied children, they are held in government custody until a family contact in the U.S. can be found, or, alternatively, transportation to the migrants’ home country can be arranged.
The treatment of migrant children is back in the spotlight after the governors of Texas and Florida spent the year sending buses and planes full of migrants to the liberal jurisdiction as a political stunt.
At least a dozen children, including newborns, have been sent in such transports in recent weeks, according to Art Independent analysis.
Meanwhile, single adults entering the US are often kicked out of the country before they can access their legally protected asylum rights under the controversial Trump-era Title 42 program.
That policy, an alleged pandemic measure cooked up by the Trump administration’s chief immigration opponent Stephen Miller, reportedly over the CDC’s protestsallows immigration officials to deny entry to asylum seekers based on Covid.
Expulsion this year under the health rule, which is the Biden administration renewed in August despite previous plans to abandon it, it appears to be on track to surpass the 1.07m achieved in 2021. according to Border Patrol statistics.