U.S. Border Patrol agents have found four bodies near the Rio Grande River, which forms the border between Texas and Mexico. The sheriff of Hidaldo County said the bodies appeared to be that of a young woman, a toddler and two infants.
The bodies were found along a stretch of the Rio Grande very close to where a new section of President Trump’s long-promised border wall — or fence, as is the case in this section of the Rio Grande Valley — is being constructed.
Authorities say the four people likely died of dehydration and heat exposure. A law enforcement official close to the investigation told The Associated Press the four were overcome by the heat and foul play is not suspected. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person isn’t authorized to speak publicly.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) calls the Rio Grande Valley Sector the busiest span of border between the U.S. and Mexico, saying it “accounts for more than 40% of the illegal alien apprehensions,” with the majority of that activity “occurring in areas where RGV has limited infrastructure, access and mobility, and technology.”
Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said in a tweet that the four unidentified bodies were found Sunday southeast of the Anzalduas Park in Las Paloma Wildlife Management Area. As it is federal land, the FBI was taking over as the lead investigating agency in the deaths.
The grim discovery comes as the White House continued to blame Congress for what’s described as unsafe and unsanitary conditions at some Border Patrol detention facilities, for migrants who manage to cross the border safely and end up in CBP custody.
Speaking Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Vice President Mike Pence called the conditions in some detention centers for migrant children “heartbreaking” and “unacceptable,” but said there was little his administration could do to remedy the situation unless congressional Democrats agree to sign off on more funding and expand detention space.
“We’re doing a lot with what the Congress has given us, but again Congress refused to increase the bed space in the last appropriations bill,” Pence. “They continue to delay efforts on additional humanitarian support.”
Last week lawyers detailed harsh conditions for about 250 migrant children — including infants — at an overcrowded Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas. According to the attorneys, older children were taking care of the younger ones and some of the children had no access to soap or toothbrushes, and most had not showered since they crossed the southern border.
Border Patrol is supposed to transfer unaccompanied migrant children to the Department of Health of Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours. Lawyers and advocates, however, have documented cases in which some children are being held for longer.
In a move that widely seen as aimed at keeping talks in Congress on immigration from falling part, President Trump on Saturday delayed a wave of roundups of undocumented families that immigration authorities had been expected to start on Sunday. He nevertheless threatened to order mass deportations unless congressional Democrats agreed to revamp the nation’s asylum laws within two weeks.