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Officials: Smugglers Abandoning More Children

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Posted: Nov 26, 2012 6:38 PM

Updated: Nov 26, 2012 9:30 PM

McALLEN - The Salvadoran consul is trying to reunite a 9-year-old with her family after she was abandoned Saturday on the banks of the Rio Grande.

Border Patrol officials said they often find children who don't know where they are or where they are from.

"We've seen babies left out there alone," Border Patrol Spokesman Henry Mendiola said.

He said agents have found children abandoned near checkpoints, along the river and in the brush.

"Obviously they're going to be scared ... some have been out there 12 hours, 16 hours, 18 hours," Mendiola said.

One of the biggest challenges is finding where the children came from, Mendiola said.

The 9-year-old found along the banks of the Rio Grande near Havana said she is from El Salvador.

Mendiola said many of the children abandoned on the smuggling trails come from Central America.

Guatemalan Consul Alba Cacerez said hundreds of children from her country are left behind by smugglers every year.

"We are trying to find those families," Cacerez said.

Reuniting those children with their families is very difficult, she said.

"They only know their names, and sometimes they only know the first and second names for the fathers ... and we have many persons with the same names," Cacerez said.

The children often forget telephone numbers and even the names of their hometowns.

If there is anything positive about the trend is that Border Patrol finds some of the children. Many children disappear on the smuggling trails and are never found, Cacerez said.

She said her consulate issues several missing-children alerts every week.

Topics: illegal, immigration, alba cacerez, henry mendiola, rio grande valley, children

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