Saturday, April 20, 2024

An 8-year-old Guatemalan boy dies while in the custody of Border Patrol

An 8-year-old Guatemalan boy died late Christmas Eve in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection, the agency said, the second Guatemalan child to die in the agency’s custody this month.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, chairman-elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, identified the child in a statement as Felipe Alonzo-Gomez. The boy, who was detained with his father, died shortly before midnight at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

“This is a tragic loss,” CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan said. “On behalf of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, our deepest sympathies go out to the family.” The boy was taken to the hospital Monday after a border agent noticed signs of illness, and the medical staff first diagnosed him with a common cold and later detected a fever.

“The child was held for an additional 90 minutes for observation and then released from the hospital mid-afternoon on December 24 with prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen,” CBP said in a news release. On Monday evening, the boy began vomiting and was taken back to the hospital for evaluation, he died hours later, the CBP said.

In the wake of the boy’s death, McAleenan announced a series of moves on Tuesday night. First, Border Patrol is conducting secondary medical checks on all children in CBP care and custody with a particular focus on children under 10.

Second, Border Patrol is working with ICE on available surge options for transportation to Family Residential Centers and supervised release, CBP said. Third, CBP is considering options for medical assistance with other governmental partners, the agency said.

Finally, CBP is reviewing its policies with a particular focus on the care and custody of children under 10, both at intake and beyond 24 hours in custody, the agency said. On Tuesday, Rep. Castro offered his condolences to the boy’s family and called for a congressional investigation of the death.

“While the CBP notified Congress within 24 hours as mandated by law, we must ensure that we treat migrants and asylum-seekers with human dignity and provide the necessary medical care to anyone in the custody of the United States government,” he said in the statement.