- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2022

Last week Custom Border Patrol agents rescued an infant and toddler who were abandoned in the Arizona Sonoran Desert by migrant smugglers. Agents found the two children, an 18-month-old crying and a 4-month-old unresponsive, shortly before they were rushed to a nearby hospital in Lukeville. 

Authorities learned the location of the children after a detained migrant came forward to ensure their safety. The children have since been discharged from the hospital and returned to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees unaccompanied minors who cross the U.S. border. 

“This is not just another example of smugglers exploiting migrants for money. This is cruelty,” Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief John Modlin said in a statement. “The heartlessness of smugglers cannot be underestimated.”

Custom Border Protection agents in Arizona say the area where the two children were left behind has seen an exponential increase in crossing migrants since President Donald Trump left office. 

“So far this year, Tucson Sector has seen a 12% increase in Unaccompanied Children being smuggled across the border over fiscal year 2021 and a 234% increase over fiscal year 2020,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

The averted tragedy, which took place in Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus Monument, an area that stretches across the southern border, came just as deposition testimony from the nation’s Border Patrol Chief was publicly released, in which transcripts depict an angry Raul Ortiz lashing out at the White House for what he described as a failed border policy. 

“In my experience, we have seen increases when there are no consequences,” Mr. Ortiz testified during a deposition taken on July 28 as part of a lawsuit filed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody against the Department of Homeland Security and other border agencies. 

“So, if migrant populations believe that they’re going… there are not going to be consequences, more of them will come to the border. Is that what you’re saying?” the deposing attorney asked Mr. Ortiz.

“There is an assumption that if migrant populations are told that there is a potential that they may be released, that, yes, you can see increases,” Mr. Ortiz responded. 

Referring to a 2021 memo describing Biden-era immigration policies, the deposing attorney then asked, “Since President Biden was elected, does this document indicate that aliens illegally entering the United States perceive that they will be able to enter and remain in the United States?” 

“Yes,” responded Mr. Ortiz.

That memo reportedly lists “perceptions of favorable U.S. immigration policies” as one of the reasons migrants continue to make attempts crossing the border. 

Ms. Moody’s lawsuit accuses the Biden administration of violating the Immigration and Nationality Act, which mandates U.S. officials send detained, undocumented migrants back to their country of origin. It is scheduled to go to trial in January 2023 in a north Florida U.S. District Court. 

Mr. Ortiz’s perspective is invaluable and his words are damning. As the head of the primary agency in charge of securing the nation’s border, few others could have more insight into the crisis there and what is causing it. In one sentence he elicited the simple truth that when there are no consequences for violating the law, people continue breaking it—a concept the Biden administration does not yet seem to have grasped. 

While ‘no consequence’ immigration policies continue to endanger Americans who live along the Southwest border, they are now costing the lives of unaccompanied migrant children who continue to remain the administration’s most tragic victims—a fact that is tainting Mr. Biden’s presidency and will haunt his legacy in years to come. 

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