Guatemalan boy, 8, dies at border while in government custody, second to die this month


Over a third of the migrants who came with the caravan to the U.S.-Mexico border are apparently suffering from a slew of health issues.

An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died in government custody early Tuesday, the second immigrant child to die in detention this month.   

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the boy died shortly after midnight. 

The boy showed “signs of potential illness” Monday and was taken with his father to a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, CBP said. There, he was diagnosed with a cold and a fever, prescribed amoxicillin and Ibuprofen and released Monday afternoon after being held 90 minutes for observation, the agency said.

The boy was returned to the hospital Monday evening with nausea and vomiting and died just hours later, CBP said. The hospital – the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center – declined to comment, citing privacy regulations.

The official cause of death is not known, and in accordance with CBP police, the CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility will conduct a review, the agency said. CBP notified the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general and the Guatemalan government.

The agency has not yet released when or where the father and son entered the United States or how long they were detained, saying only in its statement that the boy had been “previously apprehended” by its agents. CBP typically detains immigrants when they cross the border for short periods of time before releasing them or turning them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Alamogordo, where the boy died, is about 90 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border at El Paso, Texas. Ruben Garcia, director of El Paso’s Annunciation House, said Tuesday that he had no reason to believe his shelter had served the family but was waiting for further details about what happened.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican whose district along the U.S.-Mexico border includes Alamogordo, could not be reached Tuesday.

Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat who will represent the district starting in January, called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the children’s deaths and more medical resources along the border.

“This is inexcusable,” she said in a statement Tuesday. “Instead of immediately acting to keep children and all of us safe along our border, this administration forced a government shutdown over a wall.”

Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, died earlier this month in El Paso, Texas, after being apprehended by border agents.

More: 7-year-old Guatemalan migrant girl in Border Patrol custody dies from high fever, seizures; feds fault father

More: Body of Jakelin Caal, who died in US Border Patrol custody, arrives in Guatemala

More: Girl who died in Border Patrol custody fled impoverished Guatemala village

Maquin and her father crossed the border in New Mexico on Dec. 6, along with 161 other migrants. They were set to travel by bus to the Lordsburg Border Patrol station in New Mexico when her father, Nery Gilberto Caal, told Border Patrol agents Maquin was sick. She was transported to a children’s hospital in El Paso where she died Dec. 8. 

President Donald Trump and his administration have fallen under harsh criticism for the death of Maquin, though the White House claimed it had no responsibility in the “horrible, tragic” situation. 

@SecNielsen this is the second child in a month. What is going on at @DHSgov? Does @HouseHomeland have to start subpoenaing you to get the truth?

— Rep. Lou Correa (@RepLouCorrea) December 25, 2018

Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., expressed dismay at the death of the 8-year-old boy Tuesday afternoon. He tweeted to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen: “This is the second child in a month. What is going on at @DHSgov? Does @HosueHomeland have to start subpoenaing you to get the truth?”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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