Boy who died in Border Patrol custody had flu, autopsy shows

Minnie Murray
December 29, 2018

The United States will take "extraordinary" protective measures to deal with a surge of immigrant children in custody, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has said after a second Guatemalan child died in custody.

Border Patrol also has not released information on when the father and son entered the United States and how long they've been in CBP custody.

The boy was taken to the hospital Monday after a border agent noticed signs of illness, and the medical staff first diagnosed him with a common cold and later detected a fever.

The child had seizures and a fever, and was flown to the hospital, where she went into cardiac arrest and died. Doctors placed him under observation for 90 minutes, gave him the antibiotic amoxicillin and ibuprofen, and sent him back to federal custody.

Guatemala's government "will request a clear investigation and safeguarding due process in this case from the USA authorities", a statement from the ministry of foreign affairs said.

Jakelin Caal, a 7-year-old girl, died December 8 also while in the custody of the same division of the CBP.

On Tuesday, Rep. Castro offered his condolences to the boy's family and called for a congressional investigation of the death.

"CBP is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control on the numbers of children in custody as well", he said.

December 22: Alonzo-Gomez and his father were transferred to the Alamogordo Border Patrol Station in New Mexico, due to capacity levels in El Paso. However, within a few hours he became very sick and was returned to the hospital, where he later died.

The Department of Homeland Security says it has completed new medical screenings of nearly all the children in the care of the U.S. Border Patrol.

He and his wife chose 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo for the journey because he was one of three sons, and the couple had only one daughter.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California called Thursday for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing after two children died in the custody of Customs and Border Protection.

While 89 percent of asylum-seekers from Central America pass an initial credible-fear screening at the border, only 9 percent are subsequently granted asylum by an immigration judge, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Felipe's death came on the same day that Jakelin Caal, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who recently died in USA custody under similar circumstances, was buried in the remote village of San Antonio Secortez.

The cause of death for Alonzo-Gomez has not been determined, and an autopsy is planned, per The Washington Post.

The agency did not say how many children are now under its care. McAleenan said his agency reported all deaths in custody to both its office of professional responsibility and the DHS inspector general.

In its extended statement Tuesday about Felipe Gómez Alonzo, the agency said the boy and his father received welfare checks at each of the stations where they were held.

US Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the flu diagnosis.

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