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Unaccompanied Costa Rican child ‘doing well’ after being found in Arizona desert

June 21, 2018

United States Border Patrol agents found an unaccompanied 6-year-old Costa Rican boy in the Arizona desert Tuesday evening. The child said his uncle helped him make the journey from Costa Rica, but abandoned him near the border and said Border Patrol would find him.

Authorities think the child was recently abandoned since they found the minor in good condition despite the 100-plus degree weather. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) took the boy for further processing in Tucson and contacted the Costa Rican consulate for help reaching the boy’s family.

Mabel Segura, the Consul General of Costa Rica in Los Angeles, flew down to Tucson yesterday and joined Carmen Bermúdez, the Consul General in Tucson, to help with the case. Bermúdez and Segura visited the boy this morning and said he’s doing well.

“He was calm and told us he was watching movies,” Segura told The Tico Times in a phone interview. “He said that they were feeding him and he had everything he needed.

“He also used that time to call his mother and spoke to her for some time.”

The boy’s mother lives in New York and Segura said she has a “very unique immigration status” but didn’t elaborate further. Segura says U.S. authorities told her their goal is to reunite the child with his family, but further processing is required before that happens.

Segura says the boy will be moved to a shelter while U.S. authorities investigate the mother’s socioeconomic status to make sure it’s a safe environment for the child.

This case came a day before U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep migrant families together. The order was a reversal of a zero-tolerance policy by the Trump administration that separated nearly 2,500 children from their parents in under two months. The policy caused widespread outrage and strained shelters already dealing with thousands of unaccompanied minors.

The number of unaccompanied migrant children apprehended along the southwest border rose 4 percent compared to this point last year, with a 42 percent rise in the Tucson sector. The majority of those children came from Guatemala, followed by Honduras and Mexico. The CBP said that unaccompanied children from Costa Rica are rare, but not unheard of.

A spokeswoman for the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry, or Cancillería, told The Tico Times this is the only case of an unaccompanied Costa Rican minor crossing a border in at least five years, and that in fact the spokeswoman was not sure when the last case took place.

While the unaccompanied Costa Rican minor is getting ready to move to a shelter, The Washington Post reported today that the Department of Homeland Security is now preparing to house 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children in military bases across the country.

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