A fisherman saved a young migrant from drowning the Rio Grande this week — but at least one other young asylum seeker perished in the crossing between Mexico and Texas.
The heartbreaking loss of life was caught on video, and came just days after President Biden issued a warning to those making the harrowing journey this week to a border teaming with asylum seekers: “Don’t come.”
Laredo fisherman Jesus Vargas was on the US side of the river Tuesday when he saw a truck full of migrants being pursued by Customs and Border Protection officers, he told local station KGNS.
“I was coming out of work and there was a truck in front of me, almost took my front end off,” Vargas told the station.
“An officer was behind it and just followed it and they went all the way to Calton Road and then all the way to the river. A bunch of people started to jump in the river – but when they were almost halfway there across they were drowning. No one was doing anything,” Vargas reportedly said.
“Hey, you don’t have life jackets – nothing? They’re drowning, these guys. The girl didn’t come out no more … Get the boat out. They’re drowning,” Vargas can be heard pleading with border patrol agents who he claims did not come to the migrant’s aid on the disturbing clip published by KGNS.
Vargas said he threw his fishing line into the river to reel one struggling little boy safely onto the shore.
“He just put his little arm out and got the string and that’s the way I pulled him out, but the rest of them just drowned, floating down the river,” Vargas told the station.
Local NBC affiliate News4SA asked border patrol officers about Vargas’ claim that agents did not help the drowning migrants.
“On March 16, 2021, Border Patrol Agents assigned to the Laredo Sector identified a vehicle suspected to be involved in alien smuggling activity,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection told the station in a written response.
“The vehicle drove to the area of Calton Road near the bank of the Rio Grande at which time several occupants of the vehicle fled into the river towards Mexico. Others were taken into custody at the vehicle. One individual who entered the river drowned and was recovered by Mexican authorities. A second was last seen floating away and has not been located. This incident is under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.”
The number of unaccompanied children and teenagers taken into custody by US authorities at the southern border has shot up in recent weeks amid an increase in migrants attempting to cross into the country.
Last month, Biden terminated Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy that required Central American asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while US courts reviewed their claims.