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US immigration

A second Guatemalan child, aged 8, has died in immigration custody on Christmas Day, says US

  • The boy died on Christmas Day in New Mexico after showing signs of ‘potential illness’, according to US Customs and Border Protection
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 December, 2018, 3:11am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 December, 2018, 9:06pm

US Customs and Border protection announced Tuesday it would conduct medical checks on all children in its custody following the death of an eight-year-old Guatemalan migrant – the second child fatality in American detention this month.

The boy, who was with his apprehended father, had been transferred to a New Mexico medical centre showing signs of sickness on Monday, the agency said Tuesday.

Staff diagnosed him with a cold but later discovered a fever. He was released at midday, with prescriptions for ibuprofen and the antibiotic amoxicillin.

The child was later transferred back to the hospital after showing signs of nausea and vomiting, and died on Monday just before midnight.

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CBP said it had not established the cause of death but would “ensure an independent and thorough review of the circumstances”.

Later, commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan announced the agency was “conducting secondary medical checks upon all children in CBP care and custody,” and “reviewing its policies with particular focus upon care and custody of children under 10.”

He added CBP was considering seeking medical support from other agencies, among them the US Coast Guard and the Department of Defence.

“CBP is coordinating with the Centres for Disease Control on the numbers of children in custody as well,” he said.

Guatemala called on US authorities to conduct a “clear” investigation of the death, adding that “medical reports have been requested … to clarify the cause of death of the child”.

The news of the boy’s death triggered outrage on social media.

“Another child dies under this Administration’s watch,” tweeted Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas.

“Such a devastating story to hear on Christmas Day.”

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“Heartbroken and sickened by this news,” Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico wrote on Twitter.

“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,” he tweeted.

President Donald Trump has made hardline immigration policies a central plank of his presidency, drawing fire from critics who accuse him of demonising migrants for political gain.

He is locked in a battle with Congress over funding for his planned wall along the border with Mexico, which he claims will stem migration from Latin American countries plagued by gang violence and poverty.

“Heartbroken to hear of a second child’s death in CBP custody,” tweeted Nydia Velazquez, a Democratic congresswoman from New York.

“We must demand accountability, find answers and put an end to this Administration’s hateful, dangerous anti-immigrant policies.”