Guatemalan boy, 8, dies after being detained by US border agents

Guatemalan boy, 8, dies after being detained by US border agents
A generic photo of a child reaching through from the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border fence. Two migrant children have died this month after being detained at the border between Mexico and the United States.
PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - An eight-year-old Guatemalan migrant boy died shortly after midnight on Tuesday (Dec 25) after being detained by US border agents, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement.

He is the second migrant child to have died this month after being detained at the border between Mexico and the United States.

The boy and his father were in CBP custody on Monday when a Border Patrol agent noticed the child showing signs of illness, CBP said.

The father and son were taken to the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Centre in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where the boy was diagnosed with a common cold and fever, and eventually released by hospital staff.

But later that evening, the boy began vomiting and was transferred back to the hospital. He died at the hospital shortly after midnight, CBP said, and the official cause of death is not known.

The father and son were not identified, and the agency statement said it will release more details "as available and appropriate".

It is the second death this month of a migrant child who was detained after trying to cross into the US through the US-Mexico border. Earlier in December, seven-year-old Jakelin Caal, also from Guatemala, died after being detained along with her father by US border agents.

The Trump administration has tried to deter people from crossing the border between ports of entry illegally to seek asylum, while at the same time restricting legal access to official ports of entry.

Central American migrants, travelling in a caravan, are taken into custody by US border patrol officers after crossing the Mexico-US border fence to San Diego County.

That has created a months-long wait for asylum applicants, including those who came as part of a large "caravan" of Central Americans this year. Jakelin's wake was held on Monday, Christmas Eve, in her family's village.

Her death fuelled criticism of President Donald Trump's immigration policies from Democrats and migrant advocates, while the Trump administration said Jakelin's death showed the danger of her journey and the family's decision to cross the border illegally.

Jakelin's death is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General, which looks into accusations of misconduct by the agency's employees.

CBP said on Tuesday that the Guatemalan boy's death is being reviewed by the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility, and that the Inspector General has been notified of the death. It was not immediately known if the watchdog would open an investigation into the boy's death.

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