A 10-year-old Mexican girl with Down syndrome is among the thousands of children who have recently been separated from their parents at the southern US border, Mexico’s foreign minister said.
The girl and her brother were sent to a detention center in McAllen,Texas, and their mother was sent to a facility about an hour away in Brownsville after the family attempted to cross the border.
Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the Mexican consulate along with the girl’s father, a legal US resident, are working to get the girl released.
It’s a “particularly painful case,” Videgaray said.
The US Customs and Border Protection issued a statement saying the mother is not being prosecuted under the zero tolerance policy.
The mother and her five children were found June 3 in a vehicle driven by a US citizen, the statement said. The mother admitted to being in the US illegally, the statement said. Three of the children are US citizens and were released to an aunt, according to the statement.
“The mother was not prosecuted, but is instead being held as a material witness to support the prosecution of the smuggler, which precipitated the separation of the two other children, both Mexican citizens,” the statement said.
Federal agencies “are working to reunite the mother with her children as soon as possible,” the statement said.
The foreign minister said he was also aware of 21 Mexican children who have been separated from their parents. Most of the children have been sent back to Mexico but seven are still in US detention, he added.
At least 2,000 children have been separated from parents at the border as a result of the new “zero tolerance” policy, Department of Homeland Security officials said last week.
About 1% of the children detained at the US border were Mexican, Videgaray said, with the majority hailing from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Videgaray condemned the practice, saying it was “cruel and inhumane.”
“The Mexican government in no way promotes illegal migration,” he said. “However, according to our constitutional principles and our convictions, we cannot be indifferent before an act that clearly represents a violation of human rights and that puts into a vulnerable position minors, children, including those with disabilities.”
The National Down Syndrome Society said it will work with authorities to help the girl.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to this child and her family during this unprecedented and trying time. NDSS will work with the appropriate authorities to ensure she receives all the resources from us that she needs to help comfort her until she can be reunited with her father and eventually her whole family, where she belongs,” the organization wrote on Facebook.
Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, dismissed the story of the girl while appearing Tuesday on Fox News.
“Womp womp,” Lewandowski responded after former senior Democratic National Committee adviser Zac Petkanas mentioned the girl.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.