Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Sixty-five adults and 152 children clambered aboard smugglers’ rafts to cross the Rio Grande near Roma, a border town of 10,000. One Honduran woman hobbled on board on crutches. A human trafficker had broken her leg assaulting her in Mexico, but she was determined to get to the U.S., so she paid the $3,500 coyote’s fee and struggled onto the flimsy vessel. The group also included a mother cradling her 6-month-old daughter. It was March 16, a balmy evening. Around 8:45 p.m., hell broke loose.
Border Patrol agents came on the crossing, accompanied by a Texas special-operations group. The smugglers grabbed the dark-haired baby girl and hurled her into the deep water. They capsized the rafts, sending panicked migrants flailing into the dark currents. “They did that to distract law enforcement so it would become a rescue operation,” says Lt. Christopher Olivarez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
American authorities managed to rescue the baby, and a photo shows a Texas officer cradling the little girl. Her tiny arms stretch toward him, and her striped shirt and yellow polka-dot pants are soaked. The authorities also saved the woman with the broken leg and helped parents and children reach the shore. The Department of Public Safety incident report records no fatalities or serious injuries. But the smugglers escaped.
President Biden has criticized Donald Trump’s immigration strategy as inhumane and vowed to treat migrants compassionately. Yet his policies have created perverse incentives for vulnerable migrants to enter the U.S. in dangerous ways. Those policies enrich the Mexican cartels that extort, kidnap, rape and exploit Central American migrants.
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