Second immigrant child dies in US custody

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Houston, Dec 26 (IANS) An 8-year-old Guatemalan boy has died in the US government’s custody in New Mexico state, immigration authorities said, in a second case this month of an immigrant child dying while being detained after crossing the US-Mexico border.

Representative Joaquin Castro, chairman-elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, identified the child as Felipe Alonzo-Gomez.

The boy, who was detained with his father, died early Tuesday at Gerald Champion Regional Medical Centre in Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 90 miles north of the border crossing in El Paso, Texas, CNN reported.

In the previous instance, seven-year-old Jakelin Caal, also from Guatemala, died just hours after having been taken into custody by border agents.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a news release that the boy showed “signs of potential illness” on Monday and was taken with his father to a hospital in Alamogordo.

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He was diagnosed with a cold and a fever and given prescriptions before being released on Monday afternoon. He was returned to the hospital in the evening with nausea and vomiting and died there hours later.

“This is a tragic loss,” said CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan. “On behalf of US Customs and Border Protection, our deepest sympathies go out to the family.” The agency said it was conducting a review and will soon release more details about the case.

Congressman Castro called for a congressional investigation into the boy’s death.

“We must ensure that we treat migrants and asylum seekers with human dignity and provide the necessary medical care to anyone in the custody of the United States government,” he said.

“The administration’s policy of turning people away from legal ports of entry, otherwise known as metering, is putting families and children in great danger.”

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Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry in a statement also asked for an investigation and access to the boy’s medical records.

The Ministry said it will provide assistance and consular protection to the father and assume responsibility for the repatriation of the boy’s remains.

–IANS

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