On May 14, after being in the hospital for weeks, a fourth undocumented child has died in the custody of the Border Patrol. According to The Washington Post, the 2-year-old Guatemalan baby was apprehended at the border by immigration officials and was held in custody for a couple of days. He then got sick and remained in the hospital for weeks and died on Tuesday. The death was confirmed by Guatemalan government officials, though the U.S. government has not released any official comment or information about the death. The baby is the fourth child to die in U.S. custody since December.
The Post reports that the child and mother were taken into custody on April 3, at the El Paso border, but then got sick with pneumonia. The baby’s mother reported that the child was sick on April 6 and was then taken to the hospital. They also had a court date for their immigration status on April 8. It’s unclear why the U.S. government has yet to release official information about this death considering that Border Patrol officials are supposed to “notify Congress of a death in custody within 24 hours,” the Post reports.
“Paniagua said the boy, who had spent three days in federal custody, appeared to have developed a form of pneumonia, but the death remains under investigation. The El Paso medical examiner’s office and the hospital declined to comment.” https://t.co/Vq004uWQ8Z
— Border Action (@BorderAction) May 16, 2019
Since December, previous child deaths under U.S. custody include 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo, and 16-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez, who died this year on April 30. CNN reports that after the deaths of Maquin and Alonzo, immigration officials were supposed to increase the “medical checks for children in their custody.” It’s not sure what these new medical checks consist of. So far, the majority of the deaths include children who have gotten sick after they have been in the care and custody of U.S. immigration officials.
RAICES, a Texas immigration organization that helps undocumented people, tweeted: “A 2-year-old baby boy ‘apprehended’ by armed security forces. He’s now dead. No baby should be ‘apprehended.’ Immigrants should NEVER be kept in detention centers. This continues until we start treating people fleeing asylum in a humane way.”
Last year, we previously reported that another child had died soon after leaving U.S. custody, though that child’s death is not recorded as an official death within U.S. custody because they had already left the system.
We will update this story as more information is released, and when the U.S. government makes a statement about the death of this toddler.