- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

MEXICO CITY (AP) - The government’s human rights commission said Friday it is investigating claims that Mexican immigration agents illegally detained a U.S. woman and two 17-year-old boys and tried to extort money from them.

The commission said the three were detained Monday in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco while returning from a visit to relatives.

They were travelling on a bus when they were stopped. Immigration agents frequently stop buses in the area to check for illegal Central American migrants.

Mexico’s Immigration Institute denied there was any abuse. It said in a statement the woman wasn’t carrying a passport and couldn’t prove one of the boys were hers, so she was taken to an immigration detention center and the boys to a shelter, to determine their nationality and whether they were in the country legally. Mexico said it advised the U.S. consulate about the detentions.

“Foreigners who cannot prove that they are in the country legally are taken into custody by immigration officials, regardless of what country they are from,” the institute wrote.

Tens of thousands of Central Americans are detained in Mexico each year before they reach the U.S. border, a practice the United States has encouraged.

The rights commission identified the woman as Diana Leal, 39, of Texas. It did not give her hometown or identify the minors.

The woman is the mother of one of the boys, but not the other. The immigration agency said agents became suspicious when she acknowledged she wasn’t the mother of one of the boys and could not supply custodial documents. The boy’s biological mother is Mexican.

Migrant traffickers frequently send children to the U.S. border accompanied by adults.

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