A frightened child alone in Texas last week told a Border Patrol official that he’d been abandoned by a larger group and was without his parents, video of the encounter showed.
The video, taken Thursday in the Rio Grande Valley, shows the boy sobbing and saying that he didn’t know where the group he was with went.
Customs and Border Protection said that the 10-year-old boy from Nicaragua was found walking alone on a rural road near La Grulla, Texas.
He woke up and realized he had been left behind by a group of migrants he was traveling with, and he is safe at a Border Patrol facility and will be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement, it said.
The incident comes amid a rise at the border of unaccompanied minors, fleeing conditions in Central America and other places. A record number of unaccompanied children crossed the border in March.
As of Monday, about 19,000 unaccompanied migrant children were in federal custody — U.S. Health and Human Services and Customs and Border Protection — federal data shows.
The Biden administration’s policy is to expel migrants except minors who come alone, which is a change from the Trump administration policy of turning away asylum-seekers including children under a pandemic rule known as Title 42. It has resulted in children being held in overcrowded border patrol stations far past the 72-hour legal limit.
President Joe Biden has said that there is a seasonal increase in migration, and he also blamed the Trump administration in part for neglecting Central America and the root problems that drive migration and for what he said was a dismantling of systems to deal with migrants.
Biden has said most people arriving at the border are being turned away. “The only people we are not going to let sit there on the other side of the Rio Grande by themselves with no help are children,” he said late last month.
Late last month, officials said smugglers dropped two young children from Ecuador, 3 and 5 years old, were dropped over a 14-foot-high barrier along the New Mexico-Mexico border.
The girls were left alone and rescued by Border Patrol. Officials including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expressed outrage and said the incident showed the abuse children suffer at the hands of smugglers.
On Monday in California, Border Patrol said it rescued two children, a 6-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, who were dropped over a rocky area of the border and left.
Those children found near Jacumba had a handwritten note that included their mother’s name and phone number and also had the same information written on their forearms, Customs and Border Protection said.
“It is unconscionable that anyone would abandon these small children, and those responsible for smuggling events like this will be aggressively prosecuted,” Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said in a statement.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.