KEY POINTS

  • The children came from Guatemala and Honduras
  • They were found unaccompanied near the border
  • Vice President Kamala Harris responds to the surge in undocumented immigrants

Five undocumented children aged between 2 and 7 have been found abandoned near the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas.

The children, who were all girls from Guatemala and Honduras, were apprehended on May 9. None of them needed medical attention.

"It is heartbreaking to find such small children fending for themselves in the middle of nowhere," Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Austin L. Skero said as per NBC News

To get an update about the incident, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas led a Congressional delegation to Donna, Texas. While speaking at the facility, Mayorkas said, "The Biden-Harris  Administration inherited a dismantled system plagued by chaos and cruelty."

Mayorkas commended the collective work of the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for having gone "beyond the call of duty to respond to this challenge while protecting our homeland."

The agency has witnessed a dramatic reformation under the new administration. The number of children in custody in the Donna Processing Facility in Texas dropped to below 700 in late April from 5,767 in March. Moreover, the children are now being kept in custody for 24 hours instead of the previous average of 139. 

Mayorkas emphasized the Biden-Harris Administration's efforts to crack down on smuggling groups. He also said the current administration is taking measures to reduce the processing time of undocumented children and ensure that they are properly placed in the care of their parents and sponsors.

"We must restore trust in our immigration system, re-open and reform our asylum process, and secure the Southwest Border by addressing the root causes of migration while adhering to the improved health and safety measures we put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Mayorkas further said. 

However, these improved terms only apply to unaccompanied immigrant children as the expulsion policy introduced by the Trump Administration under the Title 42 of the Public Health Safety Act remains in place. Under this policy, adults and families are deported if caught illegally crossing the borders

It can be recalled that President Joe Biden appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to respond to the surge in undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers arriving at the border facilities.

In February, Biden established a task force to reunite children separated from the families during Trump's use of the Zero-Tolerance policy. The executive order signed by Biden states children entering the U.S. will not be separated from their families, except in cases required by the law or if necessary for the child's safety.  

The girls who were taken into custody Sunday were processed and turned over to the Department of Health and Human Service, Customs and Border Protection said.

A portion of the wall on the US-Mexico border, seen from Chihuahua State in Mexico A portion of the wall on the US-Mexico border, seen from Chihuahua State in Mexico Photo: AFP / HERIKA MARTINEZ