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Migrant child drowns trying to cross into Yuma

Local Border Patrol says the incident happened on June 6th, 2022

YUMA, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) - According to Yuma Sector Border Patrol, a 5-year-old migrant drowned in the Colorado River on Monday, June 6th attempting to cross into the United States.

In a statement to KYMA, CBP said when the mother was in custody, she told agents she had been separated from her child.

"The mother stated that she had handed her child to an unknown individual in the group and was last seen in the vicinity of the Morelos Dam near Andrade, CA," the statement reads. "Agents immediately responded to the area to search for the missing child and ultimately discovered a child in the Colorado River."

The Imperial County Sheriff's Office also responded to the scene.

They declared the child to be deceased and took custody of the body.

The drowning and body recovery happened somewhere north of the Morelos Dam.

From the dam up north to where the river splits the border wall at Andrade, Calif. is about a one-mile stretch.

The river can be flowing strongly and be deep before it reaches the dam.

Reaction to the news came in on Twitter…with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey calling it “heartbreaking”.

On the same day as the drowning, I was with Yuma Sector Chief Patrol Officer Chris Clem in the Yuma desert.

He says in the Yuma Sector, migrant deaths are on the rise.

“Agents have recovered 17 bodies in the desert, a 112% increase since last year,” Clem said.

Governor Ducey, and the state of Arizona have pushed for Title 42 to remain in place at the border.

Arizona’s lawsuit against the CDC prevented the Biden Administration from ending the policy on May 23rd.

But humanitarian groups say these actions are causing the increase in deaths because Title 42 closes ports of entry to asylum seekers, pushing the migrants to cross in dangerous areas in-between official entry points.

Dulce Garcia, the Executive Director of Border Angels, says her organization urges migrants in Tiajuana shelters not to take the risk of crossing through an ocean, river, or mountains to get into the U.S.

But she says they have fled violent situations, so many see getting to the states as their only option.

“Everyone who is getting expelled is trying to cross again and again until they make it or until they perish and that is directly tied to policies like Title 42,” Garcia said.

Brad Jones with Humane Borders, which operates out of Tucson, says the record number of migrants coming to the border is proof Title 42 doesn’t work as a deterrent to migration.

“With greater border enforcement, it doesn’t stop migrants from coming, it leads them to take greater risks,”

On Monday, Clem said he doesn't believe Title 42 is contributing to the rising number of migrant deaths in Yuma County.

“Exploitation by the smugglers is what’s leading to this issue, no if ands or buts about it,” Clem said.

Due to legal hurdles, Title 42 is expected to remain in place until the end of 2022, and into the beginning of 2023.

See the full CBP statement on the drowning here.

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Adam Klepp

Adam Klepp is excited to start his first job in the broadcast news industry as the FOX9 at 9 anchor and as a reporter at 5 and 6 on News 11.

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