The dangers faced by undocumented immigrants trying to cross into the United States from Central America have been highlighted by a tragedy that took place last month: a young boy from Guatemala was found dead about a mile from the South Texas and Mexico border.
Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez was just 11 years old when he died. Officials say that a ‘coyote’ he had paid to take him across the border had left him behind and Juarez had then succumbed to exposure. His body was found a few weeks ago but was not identified until recently. Juarez left his home in Huehuetenango, Chiantla, Guatemala ‒ one of the poorest regions in the whole of the western hemisphere ‒ to try to get to America.
Juarez was an unaccompanied immigrant minor ‒ one of an increasingly expanding subset of immigrants from Central America. More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have already been taken into custody this year after being caught crossing the US border; many of these are fleeing their home countries due to gang violence and massive poverty and are trying to find a better life in America.
The increase in the number of unaccompanied immigrant minors has been so sudden that it has been called an “urgent humanitarian situation” by President Obama, who declared on Monday that he is no longer prepared to wait for the House of Representatives to deal with immigration reform.