Dangers Lurk for Waves of Kids Flooding US Border

11-year-old boy's death highlights perils facing the youngest crossing

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jul 1, 2014 1:07 PM CDT

(Newser) – The 11-year-old Guatemalan boy's body was found about a mile from Texas' southern border on June 15, his brother's Chicago phone number scribbled on his belt buckle and a white rosary around his neck. While 445 immigrants died along the border last year, the discovery of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez's decomposed body in the Rio Grande Valley highlights the perils unaccompanied children face as the US government searches for ways to deal with record numbers of children crossing into the country illegally. "Down here finding a decomposed body ... we come across them quite often," Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra says, adding that this was the first child immigrant his office has found since he became sheriff in April. "It's a very dangerous journey."

More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended entering the US illegally since October, creating what President Obama has called an "urgent humanitarian situation." Yesterday, Obama asked Congress for more money and additional authority to deal with the surge of youths. The number of unaccompanied immigrant children picked up along the border has been rising for three years as they fled pervasive gang violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Many of the children turn themselves in to the first law enforcement person they see, so Guerra said it was unusual to find a child in this more remote area. Sometimes smugglers, known as coyotes, leave people behind if they can't go on; other times a group may scatter when authorities approach.

A piece of clothing that was worn by Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this month.
A piece of clothing that was worn by Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this month.   (Uncredited)
A piece of clothing that was worn by Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas earlier this month.
A piece of clothing that was worn by Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas earlier this month.   (Uncredited)
Boots worn by Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this month.
Boots worn by Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this month.   (Uncredited)
Photos of the belongings of an 11-year-old Guatemalan immigrant whose body was discovered on June 15 are displayed during a press conference Monday June 30, 2014 in Edinburg, Texas.
Photos of the belongings of an 11-year-old Guatemalan immigrant whose body was discovered on June 15 are displayed during a press conference Monday June 30, 2014 in Edinburg, Texas.   (Delcia Lopez)
Hidalgo County sheriff Eddie Guerra speaks about the 11-year-old Guatemalan immigrant whose body was discovered on June 15 during a press conference Monday June 30, 2014 in Edinburg, Texas.
Hidalgo County sheriff Eddie Guerra speaks about the 11-year-old Guatemalan immigrant whose body was discovered on June 15 during a press conference Monday June 30, 2014 in Edinburg, Texas.   (Delcia Lopez)
Apiece of clothing that was worn by Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas earlier this month.
Apiece of clothing that was worn by Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, whose decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas earlier this month.   (Uncredited)
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