Contributed Article/Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection
NOGALES – An infant died in the early morning hours of Sept. 23 after her mother intentionally was apprehended by Border Patrol agents to get the child to an American hospital.
On Sept. 23, 2023, at approximately 2:34 a.m., a Remote Video Surveillance System operator observed two individuals crossing the international boundary line on foot from Mexico into the United States. Remote Video Surveillance System operators notified Border Patrol agents at approximately 2:42 a.m. that two individuals were standing on a concrete section of the border road. Agents monitoring cameras for the Nogales Border Patrol Station advised responding agents at approximately 2:50 a.m. that one of the individuals had returned to Mexico.
A Border Patrol agent broadcasted over the radio at approximately 2:51 a.m. that he had located the remaining individual, a 16-year-old female, along with her one-month-old infant daughter, both citizens of Mexico. The agent later reported to Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility the mother was softly crying and sniffling when he first encountered her. The agent reported he observed the mother holding an infant who was covered in a blanket. The agent instructed the mother with the child to get into his transport van and proceeded to drive towards the Nogales Border Patrol Station.
A review of remote surveillance video by CBP’s OPR personnel revealed at approximately 2:52 a.m., the agent drove toward Nogales Border Patrol Station with the mother and child in the transport van for approximately 10 seconds and then stopped for approximately 15 seconds, and then continued toward Nogales Station, located approximately 2.5 miles away. The agent reported to CBP’s OPR personnel that during transport, the agent stopped the van when the mother attempted to speak to him from the other side of the security partition. The agent stated he did not understand what the mother was trying to communicate. The agent decided to continue transporting her and the infant to Nogales Station and requested that a fluent Spanish speaker ascertain what the mother was trying to communicate. The agent later reported to CBP’s OPR that he was not aware the infant was in distress until they arrived at Nogales Station, and the mother spoke with another agent.
A review of video from within Nogales Border Patrol Sation by CBP’s OPR revealed that at approximately 3:01 a.m., the agent and the mother carrying the infant walked into the sally port. The apprehending agent spoke with another Border Patrol agent who then spoke with the mother. That agent began to rapidly escort the mother and infant toward the medical screening area where CBP-contracted medical personnel were located at approximately 3:02 a.m., 11 minutes after their initial encounter. The second agent observed the infant had labored breathing and moved quickly with the infant toward medical personnel. This agent entered the first available room and medical personnel, consisting of two CBP-contracted nurse practitioners and three Emergency Medical Technicians, immediately began assessing the infant.
Medical personnel immediately began resuscitation efforts including the use of an automated external defibrillator. An agent called the Nogales Emergency Medical Services for help at approximately 3:06 a.m. Additional Border Patrol agent EMTs entered the room to assist between 3:12 and 3:13 a.m.
Nogales Fire Department EMS personnel entered the room and took over efforts to save the infant at approximately 3:20 a.m, 14 minutes after they were contacted. Nogales Fire Department EMS personnel exited Nogales Station with the infant and agents escorted the mother to Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales, Arizona at approximately 3:39 a.m.
Medical personnel at the hospital pronounced the infant deceased at 4 a.m.
CBP OPR special agents interviewed the mother of the infant. The mother advised OPR special agents she traveled ahead from the group she was with, to cross into the United States and get her infant daughter to a U.S. hospital, as she had noticed her daughter started having difficulty breathing and pain as they approached the U.S./Mexico border. The woman stated an agent arrived at her location approximately ten minutes after she crossed into the U.S.
The mother told OPR special agents when she first entered the transport van, she observed her daughter was still alive, and could hear her crying and breathing. On their way to the station, the mother stated she told the agent her daughter was in distress, almost dead, and needed to go to the hospital, but she was unsure if the agent understood her. The woman told OPR special agents once they arrived at Nogales Border Patrol Station, she uncovered the infant and observed she was no longer breathing. Another agent approached her, and the woman advised the agent her daughter was almost dead and showed the agent her infant daughter. The woman stated the agent immediately took her daughter to medical personnel. The mother advised her daughter was ultimately taken to the hospital, where medical personnel informed the woman that her daughter had passed away.
The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on the infant on Sept. 25, 2023. The autopsy and test results will be furnished by that office when available. This matter is under review by CBP OPR and the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the Nogales Police Department were notified.