NEAR HIDALGO — U.S. Border Patrol agents Tuesday morning intercepted a woman and her 4-year-old child who had been shot in Mexico during their travels north from El Salvador.
The unidentified woman told agents they were on board a train when an armed man climbed on during a stop and began robbing and assaulting people, according to a Wednesday news release from the agency.
“According to the woman, one of the armed men hit a helpless man with his handgun which caused the gun to fire a bullet striking the 4-year-old girl in the left shoulder. The terrified woman picked up her little girl and got back onto the train,” the release states.
The train conductor took the mother and daughter to a local hospital, where doctors removed the bullet from the child’s body and released her, according to the release. The two continued their journey through Mexico and spent the night in a stash house crammed with other migrants, many of them young children, the woman told investigators.
“There were no antibiotics, no sterile dressings, no pain medication and no sympathy from those she trusted to bring her and her daughter to the United States,” the release states.
The woman said they were treated like cargo and she was threatened by a caretaker that if her child, who was still suffering from the gunshot wound, did not stop crying, she would be forced to “sleep outside with the dogs.”
During her journey, the mother witnessed other families and children traveling alone being treated worse than she and her daughter, the release said. She told investigators she saw young girls being forced to stay in rooms with strange men unrelated to them as a form of punishment for not keeping quiet, according to the release.
The woman and her daughter reached the U.S-Mexico border earlier this week and crossed the Rio Grande near Hidalgo where they were found about 12 a.m. by Border Patrol agents. The woman and her child were immediately taken to a local hospital, where they were admitted into the intensive care unit, the release states.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear about a child being hurt by smugglers,” stated Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla Jr. in the news release. “Smugglers have no regard for human life, and it is a travesty that migrants — innocent women and children put their trust into these people who see them as nothing more than a commodity to make money. We continue to warn migrants about the dangers human smugglers will put them in. Time and time again we see and hear about smugglers taking advantage of the most helpless people.”
U.S. Border Patrol urges family members in the United States not to put their loved ones safety and lives at risk by encouraging them to illegally enter the United States or attempt to circumvent a checkpoint.
They also encourage the public to report suspicious activity to (800) 863-9382.