Five young undocumented migrants, including a 2-year-old and an infant, were by themselves when they were apprehended in South Texas at the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities said Monday.
The oldest of the migrants, all of whom were girls from Honduras and Guatemala, was 7, Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. None needed medical attention, the agency said.
An agent with Customs and Border Patrol spotted the girls near Normandy, about 2½ hours southwest of San Antonio, on Sunday, the agency said.
“It is heartbreaking to find such small children fending for themselves in the middle of nowhere,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Austin L. Skero.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters Friday that the number of unaccompanied migrants being held at the border had fallen sharply after a 20-year high this year.
As of Friday, Mayorkas said, 700 children were in Border Patrol custody across the entire U.S.-Mexico border, down from a record of nearly 6,000 in March.
Speaking from a facility in Texas, he said the time children remained in custody had fallen from an average of 139 hours to 24 hours.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security attributed the decrease to improved processing and the removal of barriers that kept children from being placed with relatives and sponsors.
“The Biden-Harris Administration inherited a dismantled system plagued by chaos and cruelty,” Mayorkas said in a statement, adding that he was “proud” of the “dramatic progress” the agency has made in reforming the system.
The children apprehended Sunday were taken to a processing facility before being transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, according to Customs and Border Protection.