- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A 7-year-old girl from Venezuela drowned Tuesday after she was swept from her mother’s arms as they tried to sneak into the U.S. by crossing the Rio Grande.

When Border Patrol agents spotted the mother, she told them her daughter had been with her but was lost in the water near Del Rio, Texas.

Agents deployed their boat patrol to try to find the girl, and notified Mexican authorities too. Grupo Beta, a Mexican migrant aid agency, found the girl’s body on their side of the river.

Del Rio has seen a staggering number of drowning deaths over the last year, as President Biden’s more-relaxed border policies have sparked a massive wave of migrants rushing to the formerly quiet part of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Migrants are increasingly coming from further afield than the usual countries of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Ecuador have become significant sources of new illegal immigration over the last year, but migrants are coming from across the globe.

And they are dying in record numbers.

Fiscal year 2021 shattered the previous high, with the Border Patrol recording 557 deaths along the country’s southern boundary. That more than doubled the total from 2020.

Things would have been even worse, but for a record-breaking number of rescues.

Whether a 7-year-old girl’s death will spark a rethink of U.S. policies remains to be seen.

The deaths of two children at the border in late 2018, under the Trump administration, drew national headlines and spurred Homeland Security to stand up a massive new medical unit within Customs and Border Protection.

CBP now contracts with hundreds of medical personnel to be in place to respond to illegal immigrants in need, particularly in the most remote parts of the border.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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