EL PASO, Texas -- A toddler found by a border patrol agent alone in a desert is home with his mother in Mexico after an investigation by authorities on both sides of the border.
She carried him across an international bridge in El Paso escorted by the Consul General of Mexico and accompanied by the boy’s aunt and grandmother.
His mother smiled and hugged the two year old but would not answer questions about how her son ended up alone on the border. She hugged the boy and would not take her eyes off his face as his aunt spoke on behalf of the family.
“We want to recover those days we were not with him, “ said Maria who would not give her last name.
A border patrol agent found the two year old Saturday night in the desert near the border town Sunland Park. He took the toddler over to the local police department which posted a photo on its Facebook page asking the public to help identify the boy and whether he was from the U.S. or Mexico.
The police department turned the toddler over to the child protective services agency in Mexico where he was placed with a foster family.
His mother came forward after seeing the child’s photo on a local television station in Mexico.
“To our satisfaction she presented all kinds of documents, pictures and proof that she is the mother,” said Jacob Prado, Mexican Consul General in El Paso.
The New Mexico child protective services agency at first asked for a blood test but after an interview with the child’s mother which lasted several hours decided to allow him to go home.
Though one of the youngest, the boy whose name is Ruben, is among thousands of children who end up on the border. According to the Border Patrol there were 13, 974 unaccompanied minors from Mexico in 2012, the most recent figures available.
Some are youngsters who travel up to the border alone trying to reach their parents in the U.S. But in other cases undocumented parents working in the U.S. pay smugglers to bring their kids across the border so the family can be together.
“Sometimes people don’t understand the dangers these kids may confront so it’s important to think twice,” said Prado.
Criminal organizations that control smuggling routes have abandoned some children and held others for ransom.
Authorities suspect the man in his mid-twenties who the toddler in the desert was a smuggler. The boy’s grandmother told investigators the family has relatives in Colorado.
But on the international bridge neither she nor Ruben’s mother would talk about whether he or other family members were being smuggled across the border.
The women said they planned to return to their hometown, Durango.
“We thank everyone who helped us,” said the boy’s aunt Maria who again would not give her last name.