Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission has opened an investigation into the death of an 8-year-old girl who authorities say committed suicide at a shelter where she was being held after a migrant smuggler was unable to get her into the United States to join her parents.
According the Associated Press, after the young girl was detained along with the smuggler, Mexican federal authorities placed her in a private shelter instead of one run by the state of Chihuahua’s child protective services.
Investigators say the girl hanged herself last week inside a bathroom at “La Esperanza” shelter and foul play was not suspected.
According to Think Progress, minors accounted for one in 13 people caught by Border Patrol, with 17 percent of them under the age of 13.
The Los Angeles Times has reported that up to 120 unaccompanied children cross the border each day, many in search of their parents or attempting to escape the Ciudad Juarez region, which some call “ground zero” for the violence raging in Mexico.
Children are often held overnight at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices before being interviewed and asked 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 custody, after they are apprehended by border agents. These children are often held with adults where they run the risk of being exploited and abused.
The National Human Rights Commission said in a statement on Monday that authorities are still trying to locate the girl’s family
[Sad little girl on Shutterstock]