8-year-old Guatemalan boy dies in U.S. custody on Christmas

An eight-year-old boy from Guatemala died in government custody early on Tuesday, US immigration authorities said, marking the second death of an immigrant child after being detained at the border between Mexico and the United States this month.

CBP said the boy, accompanied by his father, was taken to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The child was treated with amoxicillin and ibuprofen and then released Monday afternoon back to the Border Patrol.

Hours later CBP said the 8-year-old returned to the hospital with nausea and vomiting and died shortly thereafter.

CBP typically detains immigrants for no more than a few days when they cross the border before either releasing them or turning them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for longer-term detention. This comes after a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl named Jakelin Caal passed away earlier this month after falling ill and having a temperature that reached 105.7 degrees.

Caal's funeral was being held on Christmas Day in her family's village in Guatemala. She died in the hospital on December 8.

Guatemala's Consul General in Phoenix, Oscar Padilla Lam, met with the boy's father in Almagordo to "hear his version of the facts", according to the statement.

The ministry said CBP alerted Guatemalan officials of the death on Tuesday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the boy died shortly after midnight on Christmas.

The unidentified child is the second border-crosser to die in government custody this month.

An US border patrol agent observes near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico. It was not immediately known if the watchdog would open an investigation into the boy's death.

The Trump administration has tried to deter people from crossing the border between ports of entry illegally to seek asylum, while at the same time restricting legal access to official ports of entry. Dehydration, septic shock and fever were said to be the likely causes of her death.

  • Rogelio Becker