An unaccompanied 8-year-old Honduran girl surrendered to Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande River into the US with no contact information for her parents — one of the continuing flow of thousands of children and adult illegal immigrants arriving at the border as the Biden administration struggles to deal with the dramatic influx.
The girl, identified as Emely Antonio Dominguez Valdez, was photographed by the Associated Press standing on the river bank on Thursday in La Joya, Texas, after wandering for miles on muddy paths when she was separated from her guides during a storm.
She was traveling with a man who had the number for her parents in the US.
Now, she said, she has no way to contact her parents.
Emely’s story wasn’t unique among other young migrants.
A 15-year-old Honduran girl told the AP that she traveled for a month and a half without her parents or siblings on the dangerous trek to the US so she could get an education and help her family back home.
The teen, not identified by the AP, arrived with a larger group of migrants at a baseball field wearing a black T-shirt that said: “Women Move Mountains.”
She didn’t understand the phrase written out in English.
“I wanted a better future for me and my family. I want to study and work,” she said, noting that her relatives in New York offered to put her up at their home.
Nearby, two sisters from Honduras, 14 and 16, removed the laces of their pink sneakers and undid their buns after a Border Patrol agent told them to drop the laces and hair ties in a plastic bag along with phones and bracelets.
The agents separated the newly arrived migrants into three lines – families with young children, one for unaccompanied children and another for adults.
The adult line is the shortest.
The total of 178,622 encounters by Border Patrol agents were up 3 percent in April from March, according to figures from US Customs and Border Protection.
But the AP said many of those stopped were quickly turned around because of Title 42 pandemic precautions.
Still, many of those expelled try to cross multiple times.
Encounters of unaccompanied children and migrant children from the Northern Triangle countries fell 12 percent – from 13,962 encounters in April compared with 15,918 in March.
Agents had 108,301 encounters with single adults in April, a 12 percent increase from March.