Border official announces changes after 2 migrant children die in US custody

The coffin of Jakelin Caal 7 who died after being taken into US custody is carried
Image The body of Jakelin Caal seven who died earlier this month was returned to her village in Guatemala

26 December, 2018

Tensions on the border are on the rise as Mexican authorities have said that more than 8,200 asylum-seeking migrants from Central America have reached Mexico, with around 7,400 of the migrants staying near the cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, just south of California, while attempting to access USA territory.

"This is a tragic loss", CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan said. "On behalf of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, our deepest sympathies go out to the family". He was promptly transferred to the medical center where he was diagnosed with a common cold and a fever by hospital staff.

Felipe was released from the emergency room with a prescription for Ibuprofen and amoxicillin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic.

But later that evening, the boy began vomiting and was transferred back to the hospital.

On Tuesday, Castro called for a congressional investigation of the death.

CBP released a timeline of the events it says ensued after Felipe and his father, Agustin Gomez, were detained near El Paso on December 18.

After the second death, the CBP announced it was developing several policy changes late Tuesday.

The boy's death comes two weeks after another migrant child, Jakelin Caal Maquin, died after being detained by border agents.

CBP said in the statement that it needs the help of other government agencies to provide health care.

It will conduct secondary medical checks on all children in its custody, with a focus on those under 10, the agency said in a release.

The death has fueled an already raging debate over CBP's handling of the massive surge of illegal immigrant families that's straining Homeland Security's abilities. In a statement, the ministry said it also requested medical reports to clarify the cause of death.

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Alonzo and his father were detained about 3 miles from the Paso del Norte bridge in El Paso, officials said. The ministry said the boy crossed over into the U.S. through El Paso in Texas on December 18 and was taken into custody on December 23.

Guatemala's Foreign Ministry said its consul in Phoenix was seeking to interview the boy's father, to whom it pledged to give all necessary consular assistance and protection.

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security told reporters Wednesday that nearly all checks ordered in reaction to the boy's death had been completed.

Apparently the most recent child to die did receive an initial medical screening.

The boy died shortly after midnight on December 25, US Customs and Border Protection said.

A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died earlier this month after being apprehended by border agents, also in New Mexico.

The Trump administration has tried to deter asylum seekers from crossing the border irregularly between ports of entry, warning that they could face arrest, prosecution and deportation.

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 centres.

"Border Patrol agents save thousands of people every year who are overcome by the elements, including people found suffering from dehydration, heat stroke, hypothermia, drowning in the river, injuries, and left for dead by these smugglers in some of the most remote areas of our border as they enter the country illegally".

Felipe González Morales, the United Nations 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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