Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission is investigating the alleged suicide of an 8-year-old Mexican girl who hanged herself at a shelter in Ciudad Juarez after being deported from the United States, according to prosecutors.
The Associated Press reports that the girl had been attempting to cross the border with a migrant smuggler who was taking her to her parents in the United States. Federal authorities caught the smuggler and arrested him, turning the girl over to Chihuahua state authorities. She was put in a private shelter, called “La Esperanza,” instead of one run by state child protective services.
She hanged herself in the bathroom, prosecutors say, though there was “no foul play” involved.
The commission released a statement Monday in which it said that the girl’s family has not yet been located.
Suicide is not uncommon among children returned to their home countries after being picked up by immigration authorities, though exact numbers are unknown. Think Progress reports that 58 of 404 children interviewed by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in a report released this month crossed the border because they faced organized violence at home. The report, titled “Children on the Run,” also found that 40 percent of children crossing the border from Mexico are exploited for human smuggling rings.
Up to 120 minors cross the border every day, according to the Los Angeles Times. They often endure nightmarish journeys before being picked up by federal authorities, who interview and fingerprint them before turning them over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, where they stay an average of 61 days. Many meet the conditions to be granted asylum due to persecution in their countries of origin but are deported summarily nonetheless.