A Fourth Migrant Child Dies in U.S. Custody

[Content Note: Nativism; child abuse; death.]

Following the deaths of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, and 16-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a fourth child has now died following a stint in CBP custody.

Maria Sacchetti and Robert Moore at the Washington Post report:
A 2½-year-old Guatemalan boy apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border died Tuesday night in El Paso after several weeks in the hospital, according to the Guatemalan Consulate and another person with direct knowledge of the case.

...The boy [who was not identified and who arrived at the border with his mother] is the fourth migrant child to die since December after being apprehended at the southern border and taken to the hospital. All have been from Guatemala, a Central American nation experiencing severe drought and poverty, and where smugglers have been offering discounted trips to families traveling to the United States.

...The Washington Post confirmed the death with two sources, including Guatemala's Consul Tekandi Paniagua, who covers the El Paso area. Another source confirmed the death on the condition of anonymity.

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.
This case is additionally troubling because, once the boy's mother alerted officials that her son was sick after three days in custody, CBP took him to a hospital but then, two days later, "federal officials formally released the family from Border Protection custody with a 'notice to appear' in immigration court."
CBP officials are required to notify Congress of a death in custody within 24 hours, and it was not immediately clear whether officials would do that when The Washington Post inquired about the death because the boy had been released from custody.

Later, an official said they would notify lawmakers.
It certainly appears that CBP quickly processed the family out of the system in order to avoid mandated reporting if the child died. Which he did.

And now we must wonder how many other families are expedited out of detention because they have sick children for whom CBP doesn't want to be accountable, despite repeated reports of squalid conditions that may facilitate the spread of disease among detainees, a situation in which children are particularly vulnerable.

This is not "a blank page in between chapters of American history." It is a page on which we are writing the names of dead children, and questions about how many more there might be about whom we don't even know.

My sincerest condolences to this boy's family. I am so sorry.

UPDATE: And a fifth child died this morning.

That is the fifth child that we know of. Sob.

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