Migrant father declined treatment for son who later died in CBP custody

Kenny Tucker
December 29, 2018

"We're not created to hold all these people, a complete overhaul needs to happen", a US Customs and Border Patrol official who works on the southern border and has direct knowledge of the facilities like the ones where Felipe Alonzo-Gomez was being held told CNN Wednesday night. US Customs and Border Protection says the next day, Felipe was sent to a hospital after a border agent noticed the child was coughing and had "glossy eyes".

CBP said the boy and his father were provided food and water. "They need medical attention; they need us looking out for them".

Caal was in border patrol custody for two days before her death. Migrants from Central America have learned that bringing children to the border makes it extremely unlikely they will be deported and they are taking advantage of that.

Immigration advocates and human rights groups sharply criticized CBP in the wake of Felipe's death.

An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died on Christmas Day while in US Border Control custody.

Alonzo's death comes just 10 days after another young migrant child died in border patrol custody.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said in a statement Wednesday that the Democrats would hold hearings in the new Congress over Felipe and Jakelin's deaths, "as well as the conditions under which thousands of children are being held". That includes more than 68,000 families and 13,981 children who were not with their father, mother or family members.

"It is now clear that migrants, particularly children, are increasingly facing medical challenges and harboring illness caused by their long and unsafe journey", Nielsen said.

Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said the Trump administration's "policies of cruelty toward migrants and asylum seekers at the border must cease immediately before any more children are harmed".

Now the head of Customs and Border Protection is reiterating calls for Congress to provide more funding to handle the influx of migrants crossing the border. The agency said it has notified the DHS inspector general.

He added that it is "remarkable" that Congress has not received an official count of the number of children who have died in CBP custody over the previous year and called on the agency to release the information immediately.

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The boy was found to have a fever and cold but was released with a prescription for an antibiotic and Ibuprofen.

At 7 p.m., officials said the child "appeared to be nauseous and vomited". US officials said his father declined medical assistance because the child had been feeling better.

She said the family stopped hearing from Felipe's father on December 18, when he and the boy were detained. Lindsey Graham, Feinstein requested a hearing "on the care and treatment of children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection". Many coyotes, she noted, are trusted by migrant families, so their word carries weight.

Padilla says Agustin Gomez told him Felipe wasn't sick when they were detained at the U.S. -Mexico border on December 18 or in the five days to follow. Officials said this was done because the El Paso border station was crowded. They were then transferred to Alamogordo, New Mexico, where Felipe later died.

That's about 3,000 kilometres from El Paso, Texas, where the pair were apprehended, according to Google Maps.

Migrant teens inside the Tornillo camp on December 13. Before this month, there were six deaths in CBP custody in 2018, and none of those were children, DHS officials said.

Oscar Padilla, the Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, said he was told by the boy's father in a telephone interview that the two had been travelling from their home in Nenton, a village about 450 kilometres from Guatemala City. But that upset the boy, so they resolved he should go.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced a host of "extraordinary protective measures" created to improve conditions for children and adults held in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody. The cause of death was under investigation.

"This is inexcusable", Torres Small said in a statement Tuesday.

When asked whether the government shutdown for a border wall was worth it, McAleenan told CBS.

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