US Customs and Border Protection announced medical checks on all children in its custody following the death of an eight-year-old Guatemalan migrant — the second child fatality in American detention this month.
Guatemala called for an investigation into the boy’s death and some US lawmakers angrily denounced the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
The boy, identified by Texas congressman Joaquin Castro as Felipe Alonzo Gomez, had been transferred to a New Mexico medical center showing signs of sickness on Monday, the agency said Tuesday.
Staff diagnosed him with a cold but later discovered a fever. He was released at midday, with prescriptions for ibuprofen and the antibiotic amoxicillin.
Alonzo, who was with his apprehended father, was later transferred back to the hospital suffering from nausea and vomiting. He died on Monday, just before midnight.
The CBP said it had not established an official cause of death but would “ensure an independent and thorough review of the circumstances”.
Late Tuesday, commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan announced the agency was “conducting secondary medical checks upon all children in CBP care and custody,” and “reviewing its policies with particular focus upon care and custody of children under 10.
“This is a tragic loss. On behalf of US Customs and Border Protection, our deepest sympathies go out to the family,” he added.
McAleenan said the CBP was considering seeking medical support from other government agencies, among them the US Coast Guard and the Department of Defense.
“CBP is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control on the numbers of children in custody as well,” he said.
Guatemala called on US authorities to conduct a “clear” investigation of the death, adding that “medical reports have been requested… to clarify the cause of death of the child”.
The news of the boy’s death triggered outrage among lawmakers.
“The Administration’s policy of turning people away from legal ports of entry … is putting families and children in great danger,” Castro, chairman elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement.
“Another child dies under this Administration’s watch,” tweeted Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey, also of Texas.
“Such a devastating story to hear on Christmas Day.”
“Heartbroken and sickened by this news,” Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico wrote on Twitter.
“I am urgently demanding more details, but the Trump administration must be held accountable for this child’s death and all the lives they have put in danger with their intentional chaos and disregard for human life,” he tweeted.
– ‘Searching for a dream’ –
The boy’s death came on the same day that Jakelin Caal, a Guatemalan girl who died in US custody under similar circumstances earlier this month, was buried.
Her body was repatriated on Sunday and after a long journey reached San Antonio Secortez, the remote village where her family — members of the indigenous Q’eqchi’ Maya people — live without electricity and other basic services.
“This girl left home happy searching for a dream, but unfortunately died on the way,” community leader Alberto Pop told AFP in the cemetery.
“You hear that in the United States they pay well, not like the companies here in Guatemala — that’s why people leave,” said Pop, whose 22-year-old son Joaquin left in November in search of the American dream.
“I don’t know if he is alive or dead.”
Caal’s December 8 death reignited debate in the United States over immigration policy and the treatment of migrants.
President Donald Trump has made hardline immigration policies a central plank of his presidency, drawing fire from critics who accuse him of demonizing migrants for political gain.
He is locked in a battle with Congress over funding for his planned wall along the border with Mexico, which he says will stem migration from Latin American countries plagued by gang violence and poverty.
“Heartbroken to hear of a second child’s death in CBP custody,” tweeted Nydia Velazquez, a Democratic congresswoman from New York.
“We must demand accountability, find answers and put an end to this Administration’s hateful, dangerous anti-immigrant policies.”
Donald Trump and the Republican Party hate America: It’s time to say it out loud
For most of modern political history, the Republican Party has used patriotism — an odd and obfuscating sentimentality — as a weapon to shame critics of American foreign policy, and turn the general public against dissidents who reject the folly of Empire maintenance through violence. Samuel Johnson’s excoriation — made famous by Bob Dylan — that “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels” always seemed accurate in both its denunciation of the manipulative emotion itself, and also of those who take advantage of it for political expediency.
America has collapsed into a prone position, however, where the scoundrels are so brazen in their inhumanity, so bold in their indifference to suffering, and so barbaric in their refusal to compromise for the sake of their own country that only their own language can aptly describe them.
‘Go look at President Trump’s Twitter’: Portland right-wing rally organizer claims ‘mission success’
The organizer of a far-right rally in Portland, Oregon claimed the event was a "success" after President Donald Trump attacked Portlandiers protesting the group.
"A confluence of protesters on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum merged on Portland’s waterfront Saturday in a tense but relatively uneventful face-off that brought national attention, including a tweet in the hours before the protest by President Trump decrying the city’s signature anti-fascist movement," the Oregonian reported Saturday.
When a similar right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia killed Heather Heyer, Trump argued there were "fine people" on both sides of the "Unite the Right" rally.
Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?
The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.
"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.
The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."