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Body of Guatemala teen sent home after failed attempt to enter US

Employees of a funeral parlour pick up the coffin of 15-year-old migrant Gilberto Francisco Ramos, as his father Francisco Ramos (C with hat) looks on, upon its arrival at Guatemala City's Aurora international airport, on July 11, 2014
Employees of a funeral parlour pick up the coffin of 15-year-old migrant Gilberto Francisco Ramos, as his father Francisco Ramos (C with hat) looks on, upon its arrival at Guatemala City's Aurora international airport, on July 11, 2014

The body of a 15-year-old who died while trying to migrate illegally into the United States was repatriated to Guatemala Friday, amid a raging US debate over how to stem a flood of similar cases.

The remains of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, who perished in the Texas desert, were claimed in Guatemala City by his father, Francisco Ramos.

"I am sad," the somber and black-clad Ramos told reporters at the airport, after traveling six hours from the western department of Huehuetenango, near Guatemala's border with Mexico.

The teen, who was found dead in June, was one of a recent surge of unaccompanied children trying reach the United States, many to rejoin family members already in the country illegally.

US border police have detained 57,000 unaccompanied minors since October, twice the number from the same period a year ago.

Most come from Central America, making a long and dangerous journey through Mexico even before reaching the border.

"The case of Ramos Juarez is like that of the many Central American children and teenagers who decide to travel alone to the United States, prompting the government of Guatemala to start a campaign to discourage illegal child migration," highlighting the risk of the journey, the presidency said in a statement.

US President Barack Obama this week warned parents in Central America not to send their children alone to cross the US border, emphasizing the trek was "incredibly dangerous" and reminding them "it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay."

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