The footage, captured by fisherman Jesus Vargas, shows three people in the water near the border town of Laredo, Texas, with only their heads bobbing above the surface.
“You don’t have life jackets, nothing? They’re drowning, these guys!” Vargas is heard shouting at US Border Patrol agents standing on the shoreline nearby.
“That girl didn’t come out no more!” Vargas yells of one apparent victim.
He used his fishing reel to save one boy, about 13 years old, but he claims a woman and two teenage boys drowned.
Border Patrol said only two people died.
The incident took place after agents “foiled a human smuggling attempt,” the agency’s Laredo sector posted on Facebook.
The post said that agents saw several people attempt to swim across the river into Mexico and that some were taken into custody while others safely made it to the Mexican riverbank.
“Two individuals succumbed to the dangerous currents of the Rio Grande river and perished,” the statement said.
Video that Vargas shot appears to show Mexican authorities recovering a body on the opposite side of the river.
The Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing the incident, the agency said. The Border Patrol did not respond to requests for further comment from The Post.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees both agencies, said it had no other information available.
The drownings occurred on Tuesday, and after the video he posted to Facebook went viral, Vargas told a local TV station that he had been getting calls from Guatemala and other Central American countries asking about the woman.
Vargas said the number of people he sees trying to cross the border has increased dramatically. He said he tells migrants, “Don’t cross the river.”
A surge in migrants that started at the end of last year has steadily increased since President Biden took office.
“I think we’ll see an increase for a while,” Sergio Cordova, of the migrant relief group Team Brownsville, told the Sunday Times of London.
Cordova, who worked for months in a tent city for refugees in Matamoros, just inside the Mexican border, said residents there staged an impromptu parade in November when news of Biden’s victory arrived.
“They knew of the promises Biden made during his campaign,” Cordova said. “It’s empty there now, because everyone has crossed over.”
Separately, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who visited a Homeland Security detention center for unaccompanied children with Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday, told NPR that conditions there were unacceptable.
“These are facilities you wouldn’t want your kids in for 10 minutes,” he said. “They are big open rooms. The kids are sleeping in thin mattresses on the floor, bunched six inches to a foot away” from one another.
The law requires that children be moved out from such facilities within 72 hours, but the increased numbers are stretching that time to as much as 10 days.
“We’ve got to ultimately do better,” Murphy said. “These are conditions that can just build on the trauma that these kids have already experienced in their home countries and on the long transit to the United States.”
The DHS has granted an $89 million contract to San Antonio-based social-services agency Endeavors to provide hotel rooms for about 1,200 migrant family members. The contract, first reported by Axios, is for six months but may be extended or expanded.
Endeavors CEO Jon Allman confirmed the contract, which he said was a continuation of services the organization has provided to the migrant population since 2012.
A March 9 post on the Endeavors Web site celebrated its new federally funded “Migrant Wellness program” that will provide mental-health evaluation, group and individual therapy and “victim educational classes” to families and children.
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