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A 5-year-old Guatemalan girl was found wandering alone near the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, according to federal officials.
The child, who has not been named, was discovered by Border Patrol agents on Monday after she was dropped off near the end of the wall near San Ysidro, California, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She then apparently walked along the Tijuana River channel and into the U.S.
Grainy video shared to social media by Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke Tuesday appeared to show the child running beside the wall, which looks to be about four times her size.
Agents picked up the child, questioned her, and transported her to a nearby station where she could be screened for any medical issues and processed. She told them that her parents were in the U.S., but did not have any contact information for them, according to CBP.
The girl told agents that her 7-year-old cousin remains in Mexico, though it’s unknown who he’s staying with.
Agents have notified the Guatemalan and Mexican consulates to the situation, as well as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The incident was made public just one day after Vice President Kamala Harris warned potential migrants in Guatemala not to come to the U.S., saying, “I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
“Sadly, this is the latest example of how the most vulnerable populations are being exploited for financial gain,” Heitke said in the news release about the girl.
Agents encountered nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children at the southern border in March—the largest monthly number on record, according to the Associated Press. That number dipped slightly in April. Due to a pandemic-era policy that’s largely suspended the asylum process and led to the expulsion of migrants coming across the border, except for children arriving alone, some families have decided to send kids across the border by themselves, NBC News reported.
Last month, five migrant children, including an infant, were discovered abandoned at the border in Texas. A farmer reportedly found them in the heat, crying. And in April, a Border Patrol agent recorded a video of a 10-year-old boy crying and pleading for help—though it was later reported by the Washington Post that the child had first crossed the Texas border in March to seek asylum, only to be turned back to Mexico. Then, once he and his mother were in northern Mexico, they were kidnapped, the Post reported.