Eight-Year-Old Guatemalan Boy Died in US Custody on Christmas Eve

Content image- Phnom Penh Post

In the wake of the death of a second migrant child in USA custody within the last two weeks, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced on Wednesday the government is calling on a several federal agencies to help Customs and Border Protection implement a host of new directives meant to improve how it cares for children and adults held in federal facilities. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to call for a hearing on the treatment of children in border patrol custody, saying the Border Patrol facilities aren't equipped to care for them.

At 10 p.m., Homeland Security officials said, Felipe appeared lethargic and nauseated, so the agents took him back to the hospital.

The boy was found to have a fever and cold and was released with a prescription for an antibiotic and Ibuprofen.

Nielsen also said she had asked Mexican officials to investigate "the causes of these illnesses on their side of the border and to provide medical assistance in shelters as needed".

Guatemala's Consul General in Phoenix, Oscar Padilla Lam, met with the boy's father in Almagordo to "hear his version of the facts", according to the statement.

Felipe and his father, Agustin Gomez, were apprehended by border agents on December 18 near the Paso del Norte bridge connecting El Paso to Juarez, Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas said in a statement in response to Felipe's death that "many questions remain unanswered, including how many children have died in CBP custody".

She placed some blame for the risks faced by migrant children on their families.

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Nielsen and immigration agencies have not been able to answer the question of how many children have died while in the agency's custody, drawing criticism from lawmakers. But like others in the rural farming village of Yalambojoch, he decided that traveling with a child was the only way out.

President Donald Trump has made restricting immigration at the southern border - both illegal and legal, including those seeking asylum - a central policy of his administration, arguing it is needed to protect American lives, over protest from advocates that such efforts are grossly inhumane.

After the two deaths, the government announced that it would conduct additional medical screening for children and consider other changes.

Jakelin Caal, a 7-year-old girl, died December 8 also while in the custody of the same division of the CBP.

Felipe - whose full name has been released to news agencies by Guatemalan officials as Felipe Gómez Alonzo - is the second Guatemalan child to die this month in the custody of United States immigration officials this month.

Agency guidelines say immigrants generally shouldn't be detained for more than 72 hours in CBP holding facilities, which are usually smaller and have fewer services than ICE detention centers.

Felipe González Morales, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said on Monday that American authorities "must ensure that an in-depth, independent investigation" is conducted.

An autopsy on 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo, who died on Christmas Eve, shows he had the flu.

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