Shock and outrage over the death of a Guatemalan child in custody

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Shock and outrage over the death of a Guatemalan child in custody US migration workers reinforce steel wire barriers along the border line in the city of Tijuana (Mexico). EFE / Archive

The second death in less than a month of a Guatemalan child while in the custody of the Border Patrol has caused commotion and concern among activists and politicians, who demand that the detention of migrant families cease.

The youngest Guatemalan was identified as Felipe Alonso Gómez, eight years old, who died on December 25 at the Gerald Campion Regional Hospital in New Mexico, on Christmas Day.

“How many children have to die to put a stop to this situation? It is not normal what is happening, it is not normal for children to die, it is not normal for us to have incarcerated children, even if the government calls them ‘hostels’, we know that they are jails, “Isabel Garcia, director of the Arizona Human Rights Coalition, told Efe today.

In his opinion, immigration policies that are causing the death of minors should be stopped as soon as possible.

According to the information from the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the child was taken to the hospital on Monday after a border agent noticed that the child was sick and there was diagnosed with a common cold and medication was given.

That same day the boy began to vomit and was taken back to a hospital in New Mexico, but died hours later, on the 25th, CBP said.

The official cause of the death of the child, who had been detained along with his father on December 18, three miles west of the port of entry in El Paso, Texas, is still unknown.
On December 22, both were sent to the Alamogordo station in New Mexico due to “capacity levels.”

The death of Gomez follows that of seven-year-old Guatemalan girl Jakelin Caal Maquin, who died shortly after crossing the border illegally through New Mexico.

“It is inconceivable that we are forced to mourn another young and vibrant life while in the custody of CBP.” Felipe’s death, as well as Jakelin’s death, are horrible tragedies that result from the insensitive militarization of our border, “Vicki told Efe. B. Gaubeca, director of the Coalition of Communities of the Southwest Frontier.

In recent months the Border Patrol has reported large groups of undocumented immigrants, especially Central Americans crossing the border illegally and voluntarily surrendering to the Border Patrol to apply for political asylum.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in recent months there has been a dramatic increase in the number of families and unaccompanied minors who cross the border illegally.
In the last two months the Border Patrol has arrested 139,817 undocumented migrants along the border with Mexico, an increase of 86% compared to 74,946 arrests at the same time during fiscal year 2018.

In the last two months, 68,510 family units and 13,918 unaccompanied minors have been detained.
“We must ensure that we treat migrants and asylum seekers with human dignity and that we provide the necessary medical care to anyone under the custody of the United States government,” said Joaquín Castro, Texas congressman and president-elect of the Hispanic Caucus. Congressional in a press release.

“Congress should investigate this tragedy on the return of the legislative session,” Castro said.
New Mexican Congresswoman-elect Xochitl Torres Small joined the call, who in a message through his Twitter account described the death of children in the custody of the United States as “unacceptable.”
“We need medical resources, personnel, as well as secure facilities along our border, now, children are dying in the custody of the United States and that is unacceptable, it has to stop now,” he said.

Different organizations have denounced the conditions that migrants are suffering along the border with Mexico, many of them spending days or even weeks outside the ports of entry waiting for an opportunity to present their case of political asylum, enduring the rain and the cold winter temperatures.

For years, organizations that defend immigrants have denounced the conditions suffered by migrants while in the custody of the Border Patrol.
In the year 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit alleging that immigrants detained in the Tucson Sector on the Arizona border did not receive water or the necessary food.

They also complained that they removed most of the sweaters, blankets and coats that they brought with them and that they spent hours and even days in cold cells commonly called by the undocumented as “coolers.” (EFEUSA) .-

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