A 6-month-old baby girl apprehended at the US-Mexico border who was rushed to a hospital for a medical emergency is now in stable condition

Kat Tenbarge
Migrants hold hands as they cross the border between the U.S. and Mexico at the Rio Grande river, on their way to enter El Paso, Texas, on May 20, 2019 as taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The location is in an area where migrants frequently turn themselves in and ask for asylum in the U.S. after crossing the border. Approximately 1,000 migrants per day are being released by authorities in the El Paso sector of the U.S.-Mexico border amidst a surge in asylum seekers arriving at the Southern border.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images


  • A spokesperson for the US Customs and Border Protection told Insider in a statement that the 6-month-old baby girl who was in critical condition at a children's hospital in Corpus Christi last week after being apprehended by US Border Patrol agents is now in stable condition.
  • The baby girl has since been transferred to a children's hospital in Houston for continued care and is in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The child's father has been transferred to Houston's ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations.
  • CBP said in an earlier statement on a potential death in custody that the baby and her father were first apprehended three miles west of the Roma, Texas Port of Entry at 1:30 AM, and medical staff at a processing center determined the girl needed hospital care at 9:20 AM.
  • CBP officers first transported the baby and her father to a regional children's hospital in Edinburg, Texas, after which she was transported to the Driscoll Children's Hospital via medivac helicopter, and her father was driven there to join her by CBP officers.
  • Five migrant children have died in federal custody in recent months, including a 16-year-old boy who was found dead after contracting influenza at the same processing center the 6-month-old and her father were transported to on Thursday.
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A 6-month-old baby girl apprehended with her father by US Customs and Border Protection agents at the US-Mexico border last week has survived after being flown by helicopter to Corpus Christi, Texas. She is currently in stable condition and was transported to a chidren's hospital in Houston for ongoing care. 

The child is now in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the father, Carlos Zelaya-Romero, was identified by CBP as having "a criminal history and multiple prior removals." He has been transferred to Houston's ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations.

Last week, a spokesperson for CBP told Insider in the statement that US Border Patrol agents encountered the child with her father along with a group of 21 people at 1:30 AM on Thursday, when they were apprehended after crossing the Rio Grande into the US three miles west of the port of entry in Roma, Texas. 

Border Patrol agents transported the baby girl and her father to a central processing center in McAllen, Texas, and at 9:20 AM, medical staff assessed that the girl needed hospital care for reasons that were unspecified. At 9:40 AM on Thursday, the baby and her father were transported by CBP officers to a regional children's hospital in Edinburg. 

Read more: Border Patrol has never vaccinated the migrant children it apprehends. Doctors say it's time for that to change.

Then, medical authorities transferred the 6-month-old girl to Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi by a medivac helicopter. 

"Since there was no more space in the helicopter, CBP officers drove the child's father to the hospital to be with his daughter where she continues to receive medical care," the statement to Insider reads. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the young girl and her father during this difficult time."

In recent months, five migrant children have died in federal custody, with a sixth child dying in May after being released and spending weeks in an El Paso, Texas children's hospital. The Rio Grande Valley Sector's Central Processing Center where the 6-month-old girl and her father were transported to on Thursday is the largest processing facility in the US, and has been the site of influenza outbreaks this year, including one that killed a 16-year-old boy.

ICE detainees are also at risk of contracting mumps, as nearly 900 immigrants were reported with the disease in the past 12 months.