What used to be an “extraordinarily rare occurrence” has already happened twice this month — the death of a child in the custody of US border officials.
Guatemalan boy dies in US custody on Christmas EveNow 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.”I’ve explained to Congress … that what we’re seeing with these flows, of huge numbers of families with lots of children, young children, as well as unaccompanied minors coming into Border Patrol custody after crossing the border unlawfully, that our stations are not built for that group that’s crossing today,” CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan told “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday.”They were built 30 to 40 years ago for single adult males, and we need a different approach. We need help from Congress. We need to budget for medical care and mental health care for children in our facilities.”In the past three weeks, two Guatemalan children have died after they were detained with their fathers after crossing the border.On December 8, Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died in a hospital two days after she was taken to a Border Patrol station.
Jakelin’s family wants to know: Was her death in US custody preventable?And on Christmas Eve, an 8-year-old boy died after he was taken to a hospital, released, then returned to the hospital. CBP has not named the boy, but US Rep. Joaquin Castro identified him as Felipe Alonzo-Gomez.The CBP chief called the young boy’s death “a tragic loss.””On behalf of US Customs and Border Protection, our deepest sympathies go out to the family,” McAleenan said Tuesday.Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Wednesday called the death of a child in government custody “deeply concerning and heartbreaking,” and reiterated her call for “parents to not place their children at risk by taking a dangerous journey north.”Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi said Congress will investigate the two deaths to “ensure that no other child is left to such a fate.
The tragic death of an innocent child on Christmas Day breaks the hearts of all. Democrats call on Homeland Security’s Inspector General to immediately open an investigation into Felipe Alzono-Gomez’s death. Homeland Security and CBP officials announced a series of new procedures following the two children’s deaths:• Border Patrol conducted secondary medical checks on all children in CBP care and custody, with a focus on children under age 10.”Moving forward, all children will receive a more thorough hands-on assessment at the earliest possible time post-apprehension — whether or not the accompanying adult has asked for one,” Nielsen said in a statement Wednesday.• Border Patrol is working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on surge options for transportation to Family Residential Centers and supervised release, CBP said. The agency also is reviewing other custody options to relieve capacity issues in the El Paso, Texas, sector, such as working with nongovernmental organizations or local partners for temporary housing.• Nielsen said she has asked that Centers for Disease Control experts investigate the increase in sick migrant children in order to identify steps hospitals along the border can take to treat them.• The US Coast Guard Medical Corps has been asked to assess CBP’s medical programs and recommend improvements. The Defense Department has been asked to provide additional medical professionals.• Finally, CBP is reviewing its policies, with a focus on the care and custody of children under 10 — both at intake and beyond 24 hours in custody, the agency said.