The U.S. embassy in Guatemala, on Sunday apologised for using the photograph of a boy, who died in a social media campaign against illegal migration after angry responses to its tweet.
The embassy’s original tweet, which has since been deleted, advised readers to look after their children and not to expose them to the dangers of illegal migration.
The tweet was accompanied by an image of 8-year-old boy from Guatemala who entered the U.S. with his father, without the necessary papers.
The boy died of flu on Dec. 24, 2018, in custody in the state of New Mexico.
An investigation suggested his condition had been misdiagnosed and that he had received the wrong treatment.
A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration after being detained by U.S. migration authorities two weeks earlier.
Users on Twitter said that the image of the boy could be seen as a threat.
“We regret any pain the unintentional use of this child’s image may have caused, and we have deleted the social media posts in question,” the U.S. embassy in Guatemala wrote on Sunday evening.
The photo was published unintentionally as part of a social media campaign “to educate about the very real dangers of illegal immigration to the United States involving unaccompanied minors,” the embassy said.
People continue to flee violence and poverty and violence in Guatemala and other parts of Central America each month.
Many travel through Mexico to try to reach the U.S. and in June, Mexico pledged to curb migration by deploying soldiers along the border.
Since then, the number of people crossing illegally to the U.S. has fallen significantly.
While more than 144,000 people were stopped at the Mexican border last May, this figure had fallen to 36,689 in February.
The number fell further in April, to 16,789, after the U.S. closed its border as part of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus.