Feinstein requests hearing after 2 migrant children die in custody

28 December, 2018, 23:45 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Mani Albrecht  CBP  Cover Images  Newscom

An eight-year-old Guatemalan boy who died in United States custody had the flu when he passed away, an autopsy revealed last night.

Another child has died while in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, this time on Christmas Eve.

The father and son were detained on December 18 in El Paso, Texas, for illegally entering the country, the agency said.

Holding conditions for illegal immigrants caught trying to cross the border into the United States have been under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks, dating back to the death of a 7-year-old girl who died in USA custody after the 2,000 mile journey from Central America.

They were then taken to the Border Patrol's Alamogordo station on Sunday.

Most families in Nenton, a mountainous area near the Mexican border, are of indigenous origin and subsist on corn and beans, as well as money sent back from relatives working in the United States and Mexico, according to a local government report.

CBP typically detains immigrants for no more than a few days when they cross the border before either releasing them or turning them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for longer-term detention.

Felipe Gomez Alonzo died Monday at a New Mexico hospital after suffering coughing, vomiting and fever, authorities said.

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Border Patrol officials took Felipe to the hospital.

But later in the evening, the child "exhibited nausea and vomiting and was transferred back" to the facility for evaluation and treatment before dying around midnight, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said.

President Donald Trump's Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sparked outrage on Wednesday when she declared that the childrens' "own parents" and "open borders" advocates are responsible for the deaths of two children in U.S. Border Patrol custody. If Democrats really want to know what led to these deaths, at least part of the investigation should be focused on the perverse incentives created by our current system.

Catarina Gomez Lucas, the boy's 21-year-old stepsister, would not say who spread the rumors or who transported the father and son to the border. "They're still stuck in a mentality of zero tolerance and deterrence, when in reality what you have are families fleeing violence who need doctors and social services" when they arrive in the USA seeking asylum, Correa said.

Felipe's mother, Catarina Alonzo, 31, said her husband left Guatemala to try to reach the United States, hoping to take their son to make it easier for the pair to get in to the country. "But they always manage to get across easily", she told Reuters. "They are meant to handle single adults usually traveling for seasonal work" from Mexico, he said. The agency is also reviewing options for releasing migrants to temporary housing and is considering bringing in "surge" medical assistance from other agencies. The results are expected in about a week, she added. Felipe was eager to go, the boy's stepsister said in a telephone interview Thursday, excited to attend school, find a new home and buy clothes for his siblings. Thirty minutes later, the Guatemalan boy was transferred to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, alongside his father.

Nielsen has called the death "deeply concerning and heartbreaking" and requested medical help from other government agencies.

The Department of Homeland Security, which said the boys were the first children to die in CBP custody in a decade, would step up medical checks of migrant children to try to prevent any more deaths.

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