A Second Migrant Child Died In ICE Custody Less Than Two Weeks After The First
Felipe Alonzo-Gómez died 10 days after Jakelin Maquin.
Another child has died while in ICE custody.
Eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gómez passed away just before midnight on Christmas Eve, according to CBS News. Alonzo is the second detained child to die in less than a month. As Blavity reported, the first was Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, 7, who died on December 14.
Alonzo-Gómez, like Maquin, traveled from Guatemala with his father, Agustin Gómez, to seek asylum in the United States. The father and son were captured by ICE on December 18 when they attempted to cross the U.S./Mexico border. Officials initially believed Alonzo-Gómez had a cold after noticing he was coughing and had “glossy eyes” at around 9 a.m. Monday morning.
He was hospitalized, and staff noticed he developed a fever while under their care, according to The New York Times. Alonzo-Gómez was discharged at around 2:50 p.m. Monday with prescriptions for amoxicillin, an antibiotic, and ibuprofen. He was sent back to the hospital by government officials about four hours later after he appeared to be "lethargic and nauseous again." The boy lost consciousness on the way and was pronounced dead minutes before midnight.
According to CBS, following Alonzo-Gómez's death, U.S. Customs and Border Protection ordered every child in its custody undergo an examination. CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan blamed the hospital rather than his employees for Alonzo's death but did acknowledge a need for reform.
"We need help from Congress,” McAleenan said on Wednesday. “We need to budget for medical care and mental health care for children in our facilities, and I'm committed to improving our conditions, even as we work on the broader problems — border security, and, of course, solving the issues in our legal framework that are inviting these families and children to make this dangerous journey.”
McAleenan also blamed overcrowding and outdated facilities constructed to hold single adult males on the uptick in sick and dead children.
"Well, what we're seeing is more children than ever before coming into our custody. At this pace in December we'll have almost 25,000 children, most of them accompanied by parents who have crossed our border and arriving in custody … that's very different than we've seen before," he said.
Despite the deaths, McAleenan insisted the ICE and Customs and Border patrol prioritize migrants’ well-being.
"It's been more than a decade that we've had a child pass away anywhere in a CBP process, so this is just devastating for us,” he said. “We've got over 1,500 emergency medical technicians that have been co-trained as law enforcement officers. They work every day to protect people that come into our custody.”
President Donald Trump, who is fighting to secure funding his border wall, has not commented on the death.
As Fortune reports, the Department of Homeland Security is affected by the partial government shutdown. Roughly 54,000 Customs and Border Patrol agents will be forced to work without pay until the shutdown ends. A full 12 percent of DHS employees are currently on unpaid leave.
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