Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agents rescued a family of Central American migrants who became trapped in a kiddie pool “raft” that was snared by a tree in the middle of the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass.
Del Rio Station Border Patrol marine-based agents observed a “raft” that became stranded in the middle of the border river that separates Texas and Mexico on May 13. The migrant family became trapped as they attempted the dangerous trek of crossing the Rio Grande — swollen and swiftly moving from recent rains and dam releases. The agents quickly moved their boat in position to safely extricate the migrant family from their baby pool that smugglers utilized for the border crossing, according to information provided by Del Rio Sector Border Patrol officials.
“In their attempt to enter the United States, immigrants often do not measure the risks of using improvised flotation devices in the turbulent waters of the Rio Grande,” Randy Davis the Del Rio Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent expressed in a written statement, “I am proud of our agents and the lifesaving work they do every day.”
Agents identified the migrants as one adult traveling with three children. Border Patrol officials did not disclose the nationality of the migrants or the ages of the children. After safely completing the rescue, the agents transported the migrant family to the Del Rio Station for processing under sector guidelines.
Rescues of migrants in these highly dangerous makeshift rafts are becoming commonplace in the Del Rio Sector. Eagle Pass Station agents came upon a potentially deadly situation on May 16 when they observed one of these inflatable rafts capsize and toss its occupants into the Rio Grande, the San Antonio Express-News reported. “Five of the nine migrants were children,” Express-News reporter Silvia Foster-Frau wrote. “They all began to scream. One agent jumped into the river to save a 7-year-old boy, who had separated from his float and was going under in the swift current.”
Express-News photojournalist Bob Owen was on hand to capture many images that dramatically reveal the dangerous nature of these illegal border crossings.
The agents managed to pull the migrant family to safety. That is not always the case. Earlier this month, Breitbart News reported that a migrant infant drowned in the Rio Grande after a raft of this type flipped and tossed the occupants into the river. Two other people, including another small child, drowned from this incident and others are missing.
“What we’re dealing with now is senseless tragedy,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz said in a written statement. “The men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol have been doing everything in their power to prevent incidents like this. And yet, callous smugglers continue to imperil the lives of migrants for financial gain.”
“I’m not doing it justice when I tell you it’s absolutely raging,” Eagle Pass Station Agent in Charge Bryan Kemmet told the reporter about the current in the Rio Grande at this time.
The Rio Grande is particularly dangerous at this time due to recent rains and water released from the Amistad Reservoir, the Express-News reporter explained.
Del Rio Sector Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Brady Waikel told the newspaper that these types of rescues are happening every day. He said his agents have carried out 370 rescues in the first seven months of the fiscal year which began October 1, 2018.
“It’s because of the river but not necessarily because the river is high. It’s more the sheer number of people coming across, and also the makeup of them,” Chief Waikel explained. “It’s the fact that we’re dealing with family units and higher numbers of young kids that we have before. It’s a vulnerable population.”
Just last week, Eagle Pass Station agents rescued a Honduran woman and her nine-month-old infant after a man standing on the Mexican bank of the river shoved her into the water with her child, Breitbart News reported. Agents quickly moved into position to rescue the woman who struggled to keep the child’s head above water. They disappeared underwater shortly before the agents could grab them, but the agents were able to pull her and the child to safety when they reappeared.
“An increase in water release from Amistad Dam continues to create dangerous conditions for anyone attempting to cross the Rio Grande River, and for agents operating on or near the river,” Del Rio Sector Border Patrol officials said in a written statement.