On Christas Eve, eight-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonso became the second migrant child to die in federal custody in December 2018. The first child was Jakelin Caal, a seven-year-old who died of dehydration and shock in a hospital in El Paso on December 8, 2018.
Alonso and his father had been caught by Border Patrol unlawfully crossing the border near El Paso on December 18. According to Border agents, the pair were given food, water, and juice. Border agents moved Alonso and his father to multiple stations throughout the following days.
When Alonso developed a cough, he was taken to the hospital. Alonso had a 103 degree fever and was treated with antibiotics and ibuprofen. After treatment, he was released back into the custody of Customs and Border Protection.
Felipe Alonso had been in custody for six days, two times the Border Patrol recommended 72 hours, when he became significantly sicker. Alonso vomited and lost consciousness in transit to the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Alonso passed that night.
The tragic deaths of Alonso and Caal have ignited an influx of shock and sadness. Federal officials were quick to note that up until December 2018, it had been over ten years since a child had died in the custody of border patrol. Although, six adults had died in custody this year.
Democratic representatives plan on using their impending control of the House of Representatives to push for an investigation of the policies and conditions that have led to such terminal and sickening results. Steny H. Moyer of Maryland, the House Minority Whip, asked Congress to “ask serious questions about what happened and who bears responsibility.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas believes that Alonso’s death tells the tale of more than just an ill child in CBP custody. Rep. Castro argues that Alonso’s death indicates a “systemic crisis” within the Customs and Border Patrol.
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