8-Year-Old Felipe Gomez Alonzo Dies In Border Patrol Custody

8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo makes the second child to die in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody in less than a month

  • Alonzo was in CBP custody for almost a week before his death

  • Hours before his death Alonzo was diagnosed with a cold and fever

  • A cause of death has not been determined at this time

  • The death is pushing more officials to question CBP’s ability to keep people safe

Not even a month after 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody, 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo died.

While many tried to argue the agency was not responsible for Maquin’s death due to only being in custody for a matter of hours before her death, Alonzo had been in custody for almost a week when he died.

According to CBP, Alonzo was from Guatemala. On Monday the boy was said to be showing “signs of potential illness” and taken to the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. At the hospital, Alonzo was diagnosed with a cold and fever. The young boy was prescribed amoxicillin and Ibuprofen and observed for 90 minutes before being released.

After leaving the hospital, Alonzo and his father were transported to a temporary holding at the Highway 70 checkpoint. Later in the evening, Alonzo began getting nauseous, at which point he was taken back to GCRMC. On the way to the hospital, Alonzo began vomiting and lost consciousness. Staff at the hospital were unable to revive Alonzo.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Elect Joaquin Castro said in a statement that this administration’s practice of turning people away at ports of entry “is putting families and children in great danger.” Castro added that it is unknown how many children have died in CBP custody.

I’m deeply saddened by the death of 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez last night in U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) custody and offer my condolences to his family. While the CBP notified Congress within 24 hours as mandated by law, we must ensure that we treat migrants and asylum-seekers with human dignity and provide the necessary medical care to anyone in the custody of the United States government. Congress should investigate this tragedy upon its return to session.

The Administration’s policy of turning people away from legal ports of entry, otherwise known as metering, is putting families and children in great danger. We learned this first-hand last week during our Congressional oversight trip to Lordsburg Station. Serious concerns were raised about the condition of CBP detention facilities, and the lack of adequate medical supplies, equipment and resources to properly treat migrants and the agents working there. Many questions remain unanswered, including how many children have died in CBP custody. With two deaths that we know about just in the last few weeks, Congress will continue to press the Department of Homeland Security until we get answers to all our questions.

CBP said in a statement the cause of death was unknown. The agency also promised an “independent and thorough review of the circumstances” surrounding the death. The Guatemalan government is said to be engaging the family, and the father was allowed to contact the child’s mother.

The official cause of the child’s death is not known. Consistent with CBP policy, CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility will conduct a review. The Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General has been notified. The Guatemalan government has been notified and is currently engaging the father and any family members in Guatemala. CBP has also made the appropriate Congressional notifications consistent with CBP’s Interim Procedures on Notification of a Death in Custody. CBP will release more details as available and appropriate, and will ensure an independent and thorough review of the circumstances.

According to CBP, Alonzo and his father were taken into custody on December 18 approximately 3.29 miles west of the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry (PDT) in El Paso, Texas. A little under four hours later they were transported to the PDT processing center.

Read: ICE Report Claims Cartels Adapt Daily Based On U.S. Border Patrol

During their time at PDT, Alonzo and his father received six welfare checks and were said to be supplied with food, snacks, juice and water. On December 20, Alonzo and his father were transported to El Paso Border Patrol Station (EPS). The father and child received 17 welfare checks at EPS from December 20 to December 22.

On December 23, Alonzo and his father were transferred to the Alamogordo Border Patrol Station (ALA) for final processing. The father and child were transferred from EPS due to capacity levels. From December 23 to the 24, Alonzo and his father were said to have “several welfare checks.”

New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich said in a tweet that he is demanding more details. Heinrich went on to say the Trump administration needed to be “held accountable for this child’s death and all the lives they have put in danger with their intentional chaos and disregard for human life.”

Heartbroken and sickened by this news. I am urgently demanding more details, but the Trump administration must be held accountable for this child’s death and all the lives they have put in danger with their intentional chaos and disregard for human life.

California Senator Kamala Harris put blame on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Kamala pointed out that Nielsen was not able to give an exact number of deaths that have occurred in CBP custody. Congressman David Cicilline questioned Nielsen about how many people had died in her department’s custody, but she did not have an answer.

Another immigrant child in detention has died and just last week Secretary Nielsen said she couldn’t provide a specific number of how many people have died while in government custody. Just another reason why Nielsen must resign.

Earlier in the month Maquin died after being in CBP custody for more than 11 hours. Maquin had a fever of 105.7 and began vomiting at which point she was transported to Providence Children’s Hospital where she later died.

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Meko Haze is an independent journalist by day... and an independent journalist by night.

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