Originally Published in CNN
Geneva Sands - April 6, 2021
"What we are seeing, more and more, is the families are self-separating in Mexico," Brian Hastings, who leads the busiest Border Patrol
sector in the US, said in an interview Monday.
From February 24 to March 23, there were 435 incidents in the south Texas region where children were apprehended crossing the border alone after previously being expelled with their family as a part of the pandemic health order "Title 42," based on intelligence that Border Patrol gathered from unaccompanied children who entered their custody, according to Hastings.
The Biden administration has had to contend with a growing number of migrant arrivals that have overwhelmed resources
and resulted in crowded conditions. The situation has also contributed to children spending prolonged periods in Border Patrol custody, beyond the 72-hour legal limit.
To underscore the concern over the danger associated with the increase in unaccompanied children, Hastings shared a video of a 10-year-old who he says was found alone in a field on the morning of April 1, after being left by the group he was traveling with.
"Can you help me?" the boy asks a Border Patrol agent after a farmer spotted the boy and alerted authorities. Video provided to CNN by the agency shows what appears to be Border Patrol initially encountering the boy who says he's afraid.
He had been traveling with about 80 other individuals, without parents, according to Hastings. The boy had been left for approximately four hours, said Hastings, adding "when he woke up, he didn't know where he was or where to go or what to do."
The full circumstances of the 10-year-old are unknown, including the how and why he came to the US. It is also unknown whether this is a case of self-separation.
These kinds of incidents are unfortunately becoming "commonplace," said Hastings, adding that children have been found on the riverbank with a phone number written on their on their garment, while others have been kicked out of rafts by smugglers.