Border Patrol rescues migrant stranded in winter storm

FAR WEST TEXAS — Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection last week rescued a migrant whom they say smugglers “left for dead in the winter storm blanketing Texas.” The woman was one of at least nine migrants who were taken to the hospital with injuries from the winter storm.

At least four other migrants in the region died — though at press time, CBP could not provide further information on those deaths.

In the case of the successful rescue, the migrant — a 43-year-old woman from Mexico — spent six days in the wilderness before authorities finally rescued her on Friday. She was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, including hypothermia and what a CBP spokesperson called “severe” frostbite.

“She’s lucky to be alive,” the spokesperson said.

That woman, who has not been formally identified, was reportedly abandoned before the winter storm on Saturday, February 13. The Van Horn Border Patrol Station received a call from someone claiming to be a relative, who said the woman had been abandoned by smugglers.

Agents searched for the migrant, but they weren’t able to find her. Later, a rancher found the woman and contacted Border Patrol. BP responded to the scene, where they were able t0 elevate her core body-temperature and transport her to a hospital, according to a news release from CBP.


The migrant told agents she had spent three days hidden among rocks during the actual snowstorm. Once the snow stopped falling, she said she made her way to an abandoned shed where she spent three additional days in freezing temperatures.

Finally, on the sixth day, the migrant found a dirt road with fresh vehicle tracks. She followed the tracks until she found the rancher and was able to get help.

Though the woman is alive, CBP says it may take her some time to recover from the “harrowing experience” of the winter storm, including physical damage from frostbite. At press time, the woman is being processed for deportation. Under federal law, migrants can face expedited deportations if the U.S. Surgeon General determines there is a “serious danger” of communicable disease spreading across U.S. borders, such as during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, Sean McGoffin, the Big Bend Sector chief patrol agent, commended the work of his agents. Together, he said, they rescued more than 200 people stuck in the storm.

“It’s unfortunate so many people place their lives in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers, which often results in a tragic situation like this,” he stated. “Our agents go well beyond the normal requirements of the job to help others. They know in these situations, there are no second chances.”