Second Immigrant Child Dies While Under Border Patrol’s Custody
Jakelin Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old girl from Guatemala, was detained at the United States border along with her father earlier this month after the pair illegally crossed it. Shortly thereafter, she started experiencing seizures while under the border patrol’s custody, and she was taken to a hospital where she died of cardiac arrest.
On Christmas Eve, a second Guatemalan child was taken to the hospital, later dying shortly after midnight. Although his identity has not been disclosed by Customs and Border Protection, Rep. Joaquin Castro revealed his name: Felipe Alonzo-Gomez.
CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan, speaking on CBS This Morning on Wednesday, expressed his condolences to the eight-year-old’s loved ones. “On behalf of US Customs and Border Protection, our deepest sympathies go out to the family,” McAleenan said.
McAleenan, who has previously asked Congress for more funding, repeated his plea on the program. “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.”
Continuing, the CBP commissioner claimed their facilities, which were constructed “30 to 40 years ago for single adult males,” were insufficient for today’s standard. “We need help from Congress. We need the budget for medical care and mental health care for children in our facilities.”
CBP will enact new policies to try and prevent any other children from passing away. One new procedure delineates that every child “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.”
White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley addressed the boy’s death through a phone call with The New York Times, saying it was “very sad.” Gidley added how administration officials were working with the Department of Homeland Security to learn what transpired at the border. House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi plans to fully investigate the deaths of both children, hoping “no other child is left to such a fate.”