Eight-year-old boy Felipe Gomez Alonzo, who was apprehended with his family by US border agents, dies at a hospital in New Mexico, officials say.
An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died in government custody in New Mexico on Tuesday, US immigration authorities said, marking the second death of an immigrant child in detention this month.
The death came during an ongoing dispute over border security and with a partial government shutdown underway over President Donald Trump's request for border wall funding.
A Guatemalan official said he was told by the father of the boy that the two had been traveling from their home in the Central American country to Tennessee, and that his son had been in "perfect health."
Oscar Padilla, the Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, conformed the boy's name was Felipe Gomez Alonzo, and interviewed the father, 47-year-old Agustin Gomez, by telephone.
However, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said the boy showed "signs of potential illness" on Monday and was taken with his father to a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he was diagnosed with a cold and a fever.
The boy was prescribed amoxicillin and Ibuprofen and released on Monday afternoon after being held 90 minutes for observation, the agency said.
The boy was returned to the hospital on Monday evening with nausea and vomiting and died there just after midnight, CBP said.
Cause of death undetermined
CBP has not yet confirmed when or where the father and son entered the United States or how long they were detained, saying only in its statement that the boy had been "previously apprehended" by its agents.
The agency said the cause of the boy's death has not been determined and that it has notified the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general and the Guatemalan government.
Migrants from Central America have been increasingly seeking to reach the US amid widespread poverty and gang violence in the region.
Large groups collectively known as "caravans" have drawn the ire of US President Donald Trump, who has deployed military personnel along the border in a bid to thwart potential illegal crossings.
On this Christmas morning, we lost another child along our border. Six days before his death, I visited the place where Jakelin Caal entered the US & was detained. Jakelin, like this young boy, died while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection. This is inexcusable. (1/4)— Xochitl Torres Small (@XochforCongress) December 25, 2018
A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died earlier this month after being apprehended by border agents in New Mexico. The body of the girl, Jakelin Caal, was returned to her family's remote village Monday for burial Tuesday.
The White House referred questions about the latest case to the US Department of Homeland Security, CBP's parent agency. CBP officers and the Border Patrol remain on the job despite the shutdown.
According to Guatemala's foreign ministry, the father and son entered the US at El Paso, Texas, on December 18, then were taken to the Border Patrol's Alamogordo station Sunday.
Alamogordo is about 145 kilometres from El Paso.
The hospital, the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, declined to comment, citing privacy regulations.
CBP promised "an independent and thorough review of the circumstances."
The Guatemalan foreign ministry called for an investigation "in accordance with due process."
#JakelinCaal’s death was a tragedy but not an isolated incident. Read how I’m making the administration accountable for its mistreatment of immigrants, & addressing the root causes of migration in Central America that are deepening the crisis at our border https://t.co/CoKJ3nhUYP— Rep. Norma Torres (@NormaJTorres) December 23, 2018
Criticisms against CBP
Large numbers of Guatemalan families have been arriving in recent weeks in New Mexico, often in remote and dangerous parts of the desert.
Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat who will represent the district starting in January, called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the children's deaths and more medical resources along the border.
"This is inexcusable," she said in a statement on Tuesday. "Instead of immediately acting to keep children and all of us safe along our border, this administration forced a government shutdown over a wall.
Felipe Gonzalez, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said on Monday that the US government's detention of children due to their immigration status violated international law.