Migrant caravan: Footage shows children being thrown over 18-foot Arizona border fence

Sarah Harvard

An apparent smuggler has been caught on camera appearing to throw two migrant children over an 18-foot (5.5 metre) tall border fence between Arizona and Mexico and into the arms of their families. The video footage of the nail-biting moment was released by US Border Patrol on Monday.

The footage captured the moment a suspected smuggler attempted to help a Guatemalan family cross the border by climbing the fence. In the video, the smuggler dropped the family’s three children—who were the ages of 2, 7, and 10—from the top of the wall for their adult relatives to catch them from 18-feet below on the other side of the border fence.

The Yuma, Arizona region of the US-Mexico border has seen an increase in unlawful entry by migrant families and asylum seekers while the immigration enforcement authorities are tightening its border security and anticipating the arrival of the “migrant caravan” at the Tijuana and Mexicali border crossings, Reuters reported.

After crossing the border, all six family members surrendered to US border agents who arrived at the scene. They were all taken into custody.

One of the children suffered from a bloody nose. They were treated for their injuries by agents. The smuggler was not apprehended and it is believed that he went back to Mexico.

There have been about 23,121 “family units” that were arrested on the US-Mexico border, considered to be the “highest number on record,” an 150 per cent increase since July, the Washington Post reported. To put it into perspective, families with underage minors make up more than half of all migrants taken into US Border Patrol custody.

The reason for this is that Central American migrants believe they are less likely to get deported, or can at least slow down their deportation process, if they are processed with their children. There is also another reason—one based on pure economics—for families to cross the unforgiving terrains: Smugglers are charging families half price if a minor is part of their fleet since it doesn't require a lot of effort or dangerous work.

For single adult migrants, smugglers would need to walk alongside them in the dangerous deserts of Texas and Arizona, where they are subjected to arrest. But with families with minor present, smugglers only need to deliver them to the border crossing where most of the US immigration authorities are already waiting. The smugglers won’t need to enter the US and risk being arrested.

The $2.5 billion smuggling industry has also been reportedly co-opted by organised crime groups who are taking advantage of powerless families, Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said. These smugglers often make big promises to families who are desperately seeking asylum even though they know it can’t be met.