MEXICO CITY (AP):- Mexican immigration authorities said Wednesday they found a 4-year-old Honduran boy apparently wandering alone in an area near the Rio Grande.
A helicopter detected a group of seven children and three women hiding bushes near the river, known in Mexico as the Rio Bravo, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said.
The three women were traveling with their seven children in the area near the border city of Reynosa, but the boy was not related to any of them and was apparently unaccompanied.
He was placed in the custody of Mexican child welfare officials.
The institute said that through March 25, 4,440 underage migrants had been found in Mexico so far this year. It did not say how many were unaccompanied, though adults often travel through Mexico with minors and leave them only upon reaching the border.
“Migrants have told federal immigration agents that ‘the guides’ suggest they travel with children, because it is easier to get into the United States,” the institute said.
In March, a 7-year-old Honduran girl appeared alone at the U.S. border. She said her father had traveled with her by bus across Mexico, and then he went back to their homeland — but not before he placed her in the hands of a young man who was to help her cross the river into Texas. It was not clear what happened to the man who helped her cross.
The increase in child migrants represents a dilemma for the fledgling administration of President Joe Biden as it attempts to restore an orderly asylum system: In trying to adopt a more humane approach to protect minors traveling alone, more children may be put at risk.
Nearly 9,500 migrant children arrived at the U.S. border in February, up 60% from a month earlier.