Infant found, to be reunited with parents caught at border

by Daniel González - Nov. 18, 2009 02:46 PM
The Arizona Republic

Federal agents found a 1-month-old girl earlier this week while searching a house in north-central Phoenix that authorities say smugglers were using to hold illegal immigrants.

The baby's parents were caught by the Border Patrol the same day trying to illegally cross the border through the desert, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Matt Allen, the special agent in charge of ICE investigations in Arizona, said it is not unusual for parents to pay smugglers to bring their children into the country separately while they attempt to enter the U.S. illegally through the desert.

"Fortunately, in this instance, the child was found safe. But parents who contract with human smugglers should remember they are delivering their children into the hands of criminals, criminals who've been all too willing in the past to put a child's welfare at stake for their own personal gain," Allen said in a statement

ICE agents investigating a suspected drophouse knocked on the door of a home near 12th Street and Dunlap Avenue, where they found two Mexican citizens - a mother and her daughter, a minor - along with the baby. The baby was not related to the mother and daughter.

The smuggler believed to be operating the drophouse refused to identify the infant's family, ICE officials said.

The infant was then turned over to Child Protective Services while agents worked with the Mexican consulate to find the infant's relatives. Consular officials located the parents in Nogales after they had been returned to Mexico by the Border Patrol.

The Mexican consulate is now working with Arizona authorities to reunite the girl with her family in Nogales, ICE officials said.