The commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border protection is ordering 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 is the second death of a migrant child in the agency’s care this month.
“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,” said Kevin McAleenan, Commissioner, US Customs and Border Protection. “And it was the emergency room doctors and nurses who made the decision to discharge the young boy.”
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, could not be revived and was pronounced dead at 11:48 PM.
“This administration has put deterrence and enforcement ahead of humane treatment of people,” said Chris Rickerd/American Civil Liberties Union.
The Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan 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 healthcare for children in our facilities.”
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 alerted agents that she was sick.
The Guatemalan foreign ministry has called for an investigation into the deaths.