The Florence Project is utterly heartbroken by the death of a one-month-old baby in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody in Nogales, AZ on September 23, 2023. No one should die in pursuit of a better life, especially a child whose life was just beginning.
According to a press release from CBP, the infant and her mother, who is just 16 herself, were apprehended after a Remote Video Surveillance System operator saw them cross the U.S.-Mexico border around 2:40 AM. When the responding agent arrived, the mother was in visual emotional distress, crying and sniffling, and tried to speak to the agent in the car. He couldn’t understand her and rather than stopping, trying to hear her, and checking on what could be causing her distress, proceeded to the station to “request that a fluent Spanish speaker ascertain what the mother was trying to communicate.” The officer says that he did not know the infant was in distress until he arrived at the station, something he may have observed if he had stopped the vehicle to check on the young and vulnerable mother and her child when she tried to speak to him.
Harsh, restrictive immigration policies often force migrants into dangerous crossings, and the first people migrants encounter should be able to communicate effectively with them, make sure their immediate needs are met, and offer a humanitarian response. That did not happen in this case.
As we wait for more information to emerge, including autopsy results, we are holding both the mother and her child in our hearts and calling for a full investigation into Border Patrol’s response. We will continue to advocate tirelessly for more humane, dignified immigration policies in honor of both this mother and her daughter.
Rest in peace.