8-Year-Old Guatemalan Boy Dies in US Custody
Another Guatemalan child has died while in the custody of U.S. border patrol agents.
The unnamed 8-year-old boy passed away just after midnight Christmas Day — the same day a 7-year-old girl was laid to rest in her impoverished Guatemalan village.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol service says while the boy and his father were in its custody Monday, agents noticed the child was showing signs of “potential illness.”
Doctors at a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, diagnosed him with a cold and fever and released him with prescriptions.
The child became nauseous and started vomiting Monday night. He was returned to the hospital where he died shortly after midnight.
The cause of the child’s death is unknown. The Border Patrol promises an “independent and thorough review.” It has also notified Homeland Security and the Guatemalan government.
Meanwhile, in the tiny Guatemalan village of San Antonio Secortez, a funeral was held for Jakelin Caal.
Jakelin died December 8 while also in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol. Jakelin and her father, Nery Caal, crossed into the U.S. as part of one of the caravans of Central American migrants.
Among the white balloons and flowers surrounding her casket was a hand-written message to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales saying, “We ask you for jobs, electricity, potable water, roads…so we don’t have to emigrate.”
Nery Caal entered the U.S. in the hopes of finding work, which does not exist across much of Guatemala.
It is still unclear exactly how Jakelin became ill.
She was apparently well when agents arrested her and her father along with other migrants when they crossed the U.S. border into New Mexico on December 6.
She became sick on the bus ride to a border patrol station and arrived with a 41-degree Celsius fever.
Emergency medical teams flew her to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, where she died two days later. Her brain was swollen and her liver had failed.
U.S. agents say the child likely had little to eat and drink before arriving at the U.S. border.
Critics of U.S. immigration policy point to the child deaths as examples of the harsh treatment many migrants can expect when they cross the U.S. borders.
“The Trump administration is deliberately and unlawfully turning asylum-seekers away from points of entry and delaying the processing of individuals seeking protection to an unbearable crawl, forcing families to take desperate measures to seek safety,” the human rights group Amnesty International said Tuesday.
President Donald Trump has said all immigrants are welcome to the U.S. but must come to the country legally.