Pregnant Guatemalan migrant killed in fall from U.S. border wall, authorities say

Pregnant Guatemalan woman dies after falling from border wall

EL PASO, Texas — A pregnant 19-year-old Guatemalan woman died last week from injuries she suffered in a fall from the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, authorities said.

Miriam Estefany Girón Luna died Tuesday, according to a statement from Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry. She was about seven months pregnant at the time of her fall.

Doctors were unable to save the child, the statement said.

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Girón Luna, a social worker and one-time beauty pageant winner, was attempting to climb over the wall with her husband, Dilver Israel Diaz Garcia, when she slipped and fell more than 18 feet to the ground, the ministry reported. She suffered a brain bleed, lacerations to the liver and kidneys and a broken pelvis.

According to The Washington Post, Diaz Garcia carried her from the scene and came upon U.S. Border Patrol agents, who called for an ambulance. Friends on social media said the couple was coming to the U.S. to better support their family.

Estefany Luna

Posted by San Carlos Sija on Sunday, November 25, 2018

The injured woman underwent several operations in the days after her fall but ultimately succumbed to her injuries. Doctors in El Paso tried to deliver the baby via Caesarean section but were unsuccessful, the Post reported.

Diaz Garcia, 26, is in Border Patrol custody and is expected to be deported back to San Carlos Sija, a city in the Quetzaltenango department of Guatemala, the foreign ministry said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its dismay at this unfortunate fact that it mourns (for) another Guatemalan family and reports that it has initiated the corresponding processes and is waiting to receive the supporting documentation from the forensic office, necessary not only to determine the cause of death but also to complete the necessary requirements for their prompt repatriation,” a translation of the statement says.

The Post reported that Girón Luna’s death is the latest in a string of incidents in which migrants facing tougher restrictions enacted by the Trump administration have taken risks trying to cross the border illegally. Since October, at least five other Guatemalan migrants have broken bones or suffered other serious injuries in falls from the wall, the newspaper said.

“This is a very worrisome trend,” Tekandi Paniagua, a Guatemalan consular official based in Texas, told the Post. “People are taking more and more risks, and they’re losing their lives.”

Central American immigrants walk Feb. 1, 2019, between a new bollard-style border fence, right, and the older "legacy" fence after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico in El Paso, Texas. A pregnant Guatemalan migrant died Tuesday, March 10, 2020, from injuries she suffered when she fell more than 18 feet from the bollard fence as she attempted to cross the border.
Central American immigrants walk Feb. 1, 2019, between a new bollard-style border fence, right, and the older "legacy" fence after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico in El Paso, Texas. A pregnant Guatemalan migrant died Tuesday, March 10, 2020, from injuries she suffered when she fell more than 18 feet from the bollard fence as she attempted to cross the border. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Migrants attempting to cross over the wall are faced with taller barriers, including over 135 miles of 30-foot-tall bollard fencing installed since President Trump took office. Smugglers have begun to improvise ladders allowing migrants to climb over the wall, the Post reported, and migrants are sometimes forced to slide down the steel beams.

The bollard fencing is what Girón Luna fell from, the newspaper said.

The paper reported that Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, discussed the fatal accident in a conference call Thursday with reporters. Morgan described the incident as “an example of the truth” of what is taking place at the border.

“The smugglers quickly left them alone, fading off in the darkness, leaving them to make the final legs of the journey by themselves,” Morgan said. “As they attempted to climb the wall, the husband could do nothing but watch as he saw his pregnant wife fall to the ground.”

Morgan called Girón Luna’s death a tragedy.

“What is also part of the tragedy is what’s preventable,” he said, according to the Post. “Do not listen to the smugglers. They do not care about you. They will abuse you and they will leave you behind to die. That is the truth. Those are the facts.”

A record number of Central American migrants came to the U.S. border in 2019 fleeing persecution in their home countries, the Post reported. According to statistics, federal authorities took more than 470,000 migrants into custody and sent another 60,000 back into Mexico to await the processing of their cases.