Eight Year Old Migrant Dies in US Custody

Getty A handcuff attached to a fence near the Mesa border crossing


US Customs and Border Protection has confirmed that an eight year old Guatemalan child has died after being taken into custody in New Mexico.

Customs and Border Protection did not release the child’s name or gender. In a press release issued on Tuesday morning, the agency said, “an eight year old Guatemalan National previously apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection was died shortly after midnight on December 25 at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico.”

But the Associated Press said that the child who died was a boy, adding that he had died after being diagnosed with a cold and a fever. According to the AP’s sources, the boy first showed “signs of potential illness” Monday. That’s when authorities took him, along with his father,to a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Doctors prescribed him amoxicillin and Ibuprofen and released him on Monday afternoon. The boy began vomiting again on Monday evening and was taken back to the hospital, where he died hours later.

Jakalin Caal, the Seven Year Old Who Died in US Custody Earlier this Year, Was Buried in Guatemala Yesterday

Earlier this month, US Customs and Border Protection officials confirmed that Jakelin Caal, a seven year old girl from Guatemala, had died after being taken into custody. Authorities said that Jakelin had begun vomiting and having seizures, and had gone into cardiac arrest just eight hours after being taken to a detention center near the US-Mexico Border. Human rights groups and the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of migrants have called for an investigation into Jakelin’s death.

Caal’s death attracted widespread attention and led to sharp criticism of US immigration policies, especially after Kirstjen Nielsen, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, appeared on Fox News and appeared to blame Jakelin’s family for the child’s death.

Nielsen described the death as “heart wrenching” but added, “This family chose to cross illegally,” she said. “What happened here was they were about 90 miles away from where we could process them. They were in such a large crowd that it took our Border Patrol folks a couple of times to get them all.” Nielsen added, “We gave immediate care, we’ll continue to look into this situation,” said Nielsen. “But again I cannot stress [enough] how dangerous this journey is when migrants choose to come here illegally.”

On December 24, Jakelin’s body was returned to San Antonio Secortez, the remote community in northern Guatemala where she comes from. Caal’s family lives in a small, wood and straw home in Alta Verapaz, one of the most impoverished regions of Guatemala. The family has told reporters that they hope Jakelin’s father will be allowed to remain in the United States so that he can work and save enough money to pay back the smugglers who helped him make the trip to the United States. Otherwise, they say,they will likely lose their small patch of land and their home, since they put it up for collateral to pay for the journey.

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