US says 2nd Guatemalan child has died in immigration custody

Updated: Dec 26, 2018, 12:14 IST | AP

The boy was returned to the hospital Monday evening with nausea and vomiting and died there just hours later, CBP said

US says 2nd Guatemalan child has died in immigration custody
Relatives and friends of the family carry the coffin of Guatemalan eight-year-old Jakelin Caal, who died in a Texas hospital two days after being taken into custody by US border patrol agents in a remote stretch of the New Mexico desert. Pic/AFP

An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died in government custody early Tuesday, US immigration authorities said, marking the second death of an immigrant child in detention this month. US Customs and Border Protection said in a news release that the boy died shortly after midnight Tuesday.

The boy showed "signs of potential illness" Monday and was taken with his father to a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the agency said. There, he was diagnosed with a cold and a fever, was given prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen and released Monday afternoon after being held 90 minutes for observation, the agency said.

The boy was returned to the hospital Monday evening with nausea and vomiting and died there just hours later, CBP said. The agency said the cause of the boy's death has not been determined and that it has notified the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general and the Guatemalan government. CBP promised "an independent and thorough review of the circumstances."

The border agency has not yet said when the father and son entered the United States or how long they were detained, saying only in its statement that the boy had been "previously apprehended". Alamogordo is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from the US-Mexico border at El Paso, Texas. Ruben Garcia, director of El Paso's Annunciation House, said Tuesday that he had no reason to believe his shelter had served the family, but was waiting for further details about what happened. A CBP spokesman declined to elaborate Tuesday, but said more details would be released shortly.

A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died earlier this month after being apprehended by border agents. The body of the girl, Jakelin Caal, was returned to her family's remote village Monday. CBP announced new notification procedures in response to Jakelin's death, which was not revealed until several days later. Democratic members of Congress and immigration advocates sharply criticised CBP's handling of the death and questioned whether border agents could have prevented it.

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