(CNSNews.com) – A body discovered more than two weeks ago near the southern U.S. border has been identified as that of an 11-year-old illegal immigrant from Guatemala.
An Associated Press report said Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, whose body was discovered on June 15 in La Joya, Texas, was planning to join his brother in Chicago when he crossed the border with the help of a smuggler.
It quoted Hidalgo County sheriff Eddie Guerra as saying at a press conference Monday that heat stroke was probably to blame for the boy’s death.
“He was found in an area that normally the unaccompanied minors are not crossing over,” Guerra explained. “But not being familiar with the terrain, I’m sure this child was just wandering aimlessly through the brush area and got lost and had no water and the elements did him in.”
Guerra also said this was not the first time Texas authorities had come across the body of an illegal immigrant who did not survive the perilous trip to the U.S.
“Down here, finding a decomposed body … we come across them quite often,” he said. “It is a very dangerous journey.”
Of the 181,000 illegal aliens that have crossed the Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S.-Mexico border since October, more than 52,000 of them have been unaccompanied minors, the Department of Homeland Security reports.
La Joya is about 20 miles from McAllen, Texas, which has been the epicenter of a massive wave of illegal immigrants from Central America, crossing the southwest border into the United States.
According to U.S. Border Patrol agents, the trip across the border can be especially dangerous to children. During a trip to the Texas border last week, one agent told CNSNews.com that some illegal immigrant minors have been brought by adults falsely claiming to be the child’s parents, and some minors may be at risk of being forced into the sex trade.
The boy’s identification comes on the heels of a press conference Saturday by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, after she had visited the border area and toured a facility in which hundreds of illegal immigrants are being housed.
The view, Pelosi said, was a “dazzling, sparkling array of God's children, worthy of respect.”