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8-Year-Old Reportedly Committed Suicide After Deportation

8-Year-Old Reportedly Committed Suicide After Deportation

Written by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

An 8-year-old reportedly committed suicide last week after border patrol authorities caught her with a migrant smuggler as they attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the Associated Press. Mexico’s Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (National Human Rights Commission) released a press statement on Monday, saying that it would investigate her death and find her parents who live in the United States.

Federal authorities turned the young girl over to Chihuahua state authorities who put her in a private shelter, “instead of one run by the state’s child protective services,” in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. State prosecutors said that the girl hanged herself inside the bathroom of the private shelther, “La Esperanza,” but that “there was no foul play.”

While it’s unknown how many children commit suicide after they are picked up by federal authorities and returned to their countries of origin, children who make the treacherous journey often face traumatic experiences in both countries. In 2006, at least 3,000 unaccompanied children were deported to Ciudad Juarez, which some call “ground zero” for the violence raging in Mexico, after they were apprehended while trying to cross into the United States, according to a Journal of the Southwest report.

Of the 404 children interviewed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a March 2014 report, 58 percent of children crossed the border because they faced violence by organized armed criminal actors and violence in the home. The same report found that 40 percent of the children from Mexico are exploited to be part of a human smuggling ring, by “facilitating others in crossing into the United States unlawfully.”

Once caught at the border, children end up in deportation proceedings where they are “mixed with adult detainees and exposed to human and contraband trafficking, exploitation, and labor abuses before they are deported from the United States.” Children often spend the night in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office before they face an “interview” the next day where they are asked the “same questions they’ve been asked since the first moment they were apprehended in the field,” fingerprinted, and made to describe the smuggler they were with. Children who remain in deportation proceedings can spend anywhere between one week to four months, with an average of 61 days in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody, an agency responsible for children after they are apprehended by border agents. What’s more the Border Patrol has in the past deported minors expeditiously and only informed the consulate of the incident after the fact.

Last year alone, minors accounted for one in 13 people caught by Border Patrol, and 17 percent of them were under the age of 13. According to the Los Angeles Times, up to 120 unaccompanied children cross the border each day. And the Vera Institute of Justice found that 40 percent of unaccompanied children may be eligible for “statuses that exempt them from deportation. Among the most likely possibilities: asylum, because they fear persecution in their home country, or a special immigrant juvenile status for children abused or abandoned by a parent.”

This post originally appeared on ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Jim Winstead via Flickr

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6:47AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

What a sad story

3:40PM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

How do we know this story is true. I don't trust the Mexican government. When have they ever given our people a fair break.

7:25AM PDT on Apr 8, 2014

You can't just drop your kids off at a rich neighbor's house hoping they'll have a better life!

That's basically what they're doing and it's wrong on every level of reality.

7:24AM PDT on Apr 8, 2014

Rina...children should not be at the borders alone and if they're with their parents, then the parents should be held accountable for endangering their children.

12:30AM PDT on Apr 8, 2014

It's an issue of great concern. The fact that last year alone, minors accounted for one in 13 people caught by Border Patrol makes us feel that children are easy preys and are falling into the pitfalls, the calamities of their countries and the society. They are vulnerable to human trafficking and are subjected to emotional and physical traumas. It saddened me to learn that 58% of children crossed the border because they faced violence by organized armed criminals and violence in their homes. I would request their governments and the UN to thoroughly investigate and implement more welfare programs and scrutinize the works of the organizations which are set up for children's welfare. Children are our future; their education, health and wellbeing are not being given as much importance as they deserve. The news that "an 8 year old child committed suicide" should make us raise our voices against violence as 'there can be no better way to reflect a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children'. In this context I would like to quote Nelson Mandela---- "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children the most vulnerable citizens in our country, a life free of violence and fear".
Children caught at the borders should not be treated as adults.

9:33PM PDT on Apr 5, 2014


11:53PM PDT on Apr 1, 2014

What a sad story ..

9:05AM PDT on Apr 1, 2014

We have many homeless, abused and trafficked children right here in the good old USA. How about caring for them first?

Freeing ICE of all unnecessary and meaningless restrictions, thus securing and enforcing return, couldn't hurt either.

12:06PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

Sad, thanks for sharing.

1:24PM PDT on Mar 30, 2014

No child should ever feel the need to commit suicide.

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