Shocking video shows a 7-year-old girl from El Salvador being hauled over the US-Mexico border wall by a smuggler who abandoned her before hopping back over the fence.
The girl was seen clinging to the man’s back as he climbed a rope ladder over the 30-foot wall into an area about two miles from Calexico, California Tuesday morning, US Customs and Border Protection said.
“Agents immediately recognized the dangerous situation created by the human smuggler and decided to wait for the child to be safely on the ground before making their approach,” the agency said.
“This decision was made out of caution, believing that the smuggler might panic and drop the child, resulting in serious injury or death given the height of the border wall.”
Footage showed the man lowering the girl to the ground and instructing her to walk north — away from the dangerous All-American Canal — before he returned to Mexico.
Border agents conducted a welfare check on the girl and transported her to the El Centro Sector Processing Center, officials said.
“No one, let alone a child of any age or race, should be exposed to the multitude of dangers when crossing illegally into this country” Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino said in a statement.
“Smugglers will always view children as a commodity to gain a profit, disregarding the safety and well-being of any individual except their own.”
It’s unclear whether any arrests have been made. The agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than 1.5 million illegal immigrants have attempted to cross the US-Mexico border since October of last year, the highest total since at least 2000, when more than 1.6 million stops were reported in a 12-month period. That number is likely to be surpassed when CBP reports the number of September stops later this month.
In July and August of this year, border agents encountered more than 200,000 illegal immigrants per month, the first time that had happened since February and March of 2000.
The Biden administration has responded to the near-unprecedented surge in illegal immigration by dialing back the government’s enforcement operations. On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would stop roundups of illegal immigrants at their place of work and discourage action against those who reported “workplace exploitation.”