8-year-old Guatemalan boy dies in U.S. custody


The commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is ordering new steps to protect migrant children in its custody after the death of an 8-year old boy from Guatemala on Christmas Eve.

This is the second death of an migrant child in the agency’s care this month.

Mola Lenghi reported from the White House.

Customs and Border Protection says it is conducting secondary medical checks on all children under 10 years old in its custody after an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died on Christmas Eve.

“It was actually a border patrol agent who noticed that the child did not appear to be well on the morning of Christmas Eve and made the decision to transport the child and the father to the hospital. And it was the emergency room doctors and nurses who’s made the decision to discharge the young boy,” said Kevin McAleenan, Commissioner, U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

Agents noticed 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo was “coughing and appeared to have glossy eyes”. He was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed and treated for a common cold. Less than an hour later he registered a fever of 103 and was released with a prescription for an antibiotic and Ibuprofen.

Officials say they made “several welfare checks,” but that evening the boy “appeared to be nauseous and vomited.” His father “declined further medical assistance.”

Three hours later, authorities say Felipe was “lethargic and nauseous again.” There was “no EMT on duty,” so agents sent him back to the hospital.

On the way he lost consciousness, and could not be revived. He was pronounced dead at 11:48 p.m.

“This administration has put deterrence and enforcement ahead of humane treatment of people,” said Chris Rickerd, American Civil Liberties Union.

On cbs this morning, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said his agency’s facilities are not designed for the huge flow of migrant children.  

“We need help from Congress. We need to budget for medical care and mental health care for children in our facilities,” said McAleenan.

This is the second death of a migrant child in U.S. Custody this month. It comes amid a standoff between President Trump and Congress over funding for a border wall.

On Monday, the body of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal was buried in her hometown in Guatemala. She died a day after being taken into custody. Her father had alerted agents that she was sick.

The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry has called for an investigation into the deaths.

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