U.S. Border Patrol agents and law enforcement from Mexico are searching for a missing 2-year-old girl in the Rio Grande near Del Rio.
Agents apprehended the girl’s mother late Monday night after she crossed the river from Mexico, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The mother, who is from Haiti, said she had lost her daughter, who was born in Brazil, while they were crossing the river.
A Border Patrol search and rescue team searched the river throughout the night with help from law enforcement teams from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. A dive team, a remote-controlled submersible and boats from both the U.S. and Mexico have since been added to the search efforts, according to NPR.
“Any time a child is lost it is a tragic event,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz said in a written statement. “I cannot imagine the anguish the parents of this young girl must be feeling and I hope our search efforts pay off with a positive outcome.”
The search comes a week after the drowning deaths of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter from El Salvador. A widely published photograph of their bodies floating at the edge of the Rio Grande near Matamoros, Mexico, drew national attention to the controversial policy of forcing migrants to wait in Mexico before allowing them to cross the border to claim asylum..
Known as “metering,” the policy has sought to slow the record surge of migrants, mainly families from Central America, making the trek through Mexico to the U.S. But it’s also led to long wait times and overcrowded conditions on the Mexican side of the border. The long wait reportedly led to Ramírez’s decision to attempt to swim across the river.
As migrants continue arriving at the Texas-Mexico border, drownings have spiked in recent weeks, with nine people dying in El Paso-area canals in June alone. The June total nearly matched the 11 canal drownings recorded by local rescue teams in all of 2018.