Another Child Dies in U.S. Custody on Christmas Day

Yet another child is dead in United States custody. The 8-year-old Guatemalan boy identified as Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died in US custody on Christmas day.

Felipe Alonzo-Gomez is the second Guatemalan child to die in CBP custody this month. Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died shortly after midnight at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 90 miles north of the border crossing in El Paso, Texas. The official cause of death is unknown. CBP is conducting a review and will release more details as they become available.

It is not known what condition Felipe Alonzo-Gomez was in when he arrived. Medical staff first diagnosed him with a common cold and later detected a fever.“The child was held for an additional 90 minutes for observation and then released from the hospital mid-afternoon on December 24 with prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen,” CBP said in a news release. On Monday evening, the boy began vomiting and was taken back to the hospital for evaluation. He died hours later, the CBP said.

The boy arrived in El Paso with his father December 18 and was transferred to the Alamogordo CBP station on Sunday, according to the statement. 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. The Foreign Ministry said it will provide assistance and consular protection to the father and assume responsibility for the repatriation of the boy’s remains.

Similar was the fate of 7-year-old, Jakelin Caal Maquin, whom fled Guatemala with her father, and after however despite overcoming the treacherous voyage, died December 8, fewer than 48 hours after CBP detained her and her father.

These deaths highlight the debate over the White House’s approach to immigration enforcement. Rep. Joaquin Castro, chairman-elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus stated a congressional oversight trip last week to the CBP station where the girl and her father were detained raised “serious concerns” about facility conditions and the “lack of adequate medical supplies, equipment and resources to properly treat migrants and the agents working there.” He continued, “Many questions remain unanswered, including how many children have died in CBP custody,” Castro said.Felipe Gonz├ílez Morales, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said Monday that American authorities” must ensure that an in-depth, independent investigation” is conducted.

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