Early on Wednesday morning, Border Patrol agents encountered two Guatemalan brothers, aged two and six, who had crossed into the US without their families, with the names and phone numbers of their US contacts written on their shirts.
The boys were part of a larger group of 18 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and Cuba encountered by agents near La Grulla, Texas, in the far south of the state in the Rio Grande Valley area.
“Many of the unaccompanied children encountered by Border Patrol are very young and unable to provide names or phone numbers of family members,” the agency said in a news release.
Finding adequate contacts for such unaccompanied migrants means “agents must rely on information written on articles of clothing or handwritten notes found among their property, adults within the group, and/or the consulate of their home country,” the Border Patrol continued.
This year, the Border Patrol has encountered roughly 140,000 unaccompanied minor children crossing into the US, according to government statistics.
When federal officials encounter unaccompanied children, they’re kept in government custody until a family contact in the US can be located, or, barring that, transport can be arranged back to the migrants’ home nation.
The treatment of migrant children has come back into focus after the governors of Texas and Florida spent this year shipping buses and planes full of migrants to liberal jurisdiction as a political stunt.
At least a dozen children, some newborns, were sent on such transports in recent weeks, according to an Independent analysis.
Meanwhile, single adults entering the US are often kicked out of the country before they can access their legally protected asylum rights under the controversial Trump-era Title 42 programme.
The policy, a supposed pandemic measure cooked up by Trump administration arch immigration opponent Stephen Miller, reportedly over the protests of the CDC, allows immigration officials to refuse entry to asylum-seekers on Covid grounds.
Expulsions this year under the health rule, which the Biden administration renewed in August despite previous plans to abandon it, appear well on track to top the 1.07m conducted in 2021, according to Border Patrol stats.