Second Guatemalan Child Dies In U.S. Custody, 8-Year-Old Boy Reportedly Died On Christmas Day

A second Guatemalan child has died in U.S. custody, an 8-year-old who reportedly died of an illness on Christmas Day.

As the Associated Press reported, the boy died just after midnight on Tuesday after being taken to a New Mexico hospital with signs of illness. Doctors said the boy had a cold and a fever, giving him prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen before releasing the boy late on Christmas Eve.

But the boy's condition worsened and he died just after midnight, the report noted.

The boy's death came less than three weeks after another child immigrant from Guatemala died in U.S. custody. On December 8, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal died within hours of being picked up by Border Patrol after she and her father crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico. The girl reportedly fell ill shortly after being taken into custody.

As the Hill reported, the girl's death led to sharp criticism of Border Patrol for both how the girl was treated in the hours that led to her death and for apparently making efforts to cover up her death. The commissioner of the agency testified before the U.S. Senate just days after the girl died but made no mention of it.

There were differing accounts of how the girl died. The Department of Homeland Security had initially said that the girl had died of dehydration after not being given food or water for five days, but her father disputed this account and said she was healthy when the family first turned themselves into Border Patrol agents.

Attorneys for the girl's family later claimed that the girl was not given any water during the roughly eight hours she was in Border Patrol custody, a time in which she had to wait for a 90-minute bus ride to a Border Patrol outpost.

The agency was also criticized for its response, which many considered to be cruel. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed blame back onto the girl's father for bringing her to the United States.

"This family chose to cross illegally. What happened here was that they were about 90 miles away from where we could process them," Nielsen said, via the Daily Mail.

"It's heart-wrenching, is what it is. And my heart goes out to the family. All of DHS. You know this is just a very sad example of the dangers of this journey."
The 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died in U.S. custody on Christmas Day was not identified, and the exact circumstances of his death have not yet been released.