U.S. Rep Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio), the Chairman Elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, says the second death of a young child in Border Patrol custody in three weeks raises serious questions that will require a Congressional investigation, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The boy, identified by Castro as Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, 7, was arrested with his illegal immigrant father three miles west of the Paso del Norte entry point west of El Paso on December 18th.
The Border Patrol says the father and son were provided with food, water, showers, and were subject to several welfare checks in the four days they were in custody in El Paso. On December 22, they were tranferred to a Border Patrol station in New Mexico, away from the border near Alamagordo.
On December 24, officials noticed the boy was coughing and appeared to have 'glossy eyes,' and officials thought he had the flu. He was transferred to Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamagordo, diagnosed with a cold, given Tylenol, and released. But he began having more serious symptoms and was returned to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead late Christmas Eve.
Like the little girl who died in Border Patrol custody earlier this month, Felipe was from Guatemala.
“I’m deeply saddened by the death of 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez in U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) custody and offer my condolences to his family. While the CBP notified Congress within 24 hours as mandated by law, we must ensure that we treat migrants and asylum-seekers with human dignity and provide the necessary medical care to anyone in the custody of the United States government. Congress should investigate this tragedy upon its return to session."
Castro also pointed the finger at the Trump Administration.
"The Administration’s policy of turning people away from legal ports of entry, otherwise known as metering, is putting families and children in great danger. We learned this first-hand last week during our Congressional oversight trip to Lordsburg Station. Serious concerns were raised about the condition of CBP detention facilities, and the lack of adequate medical supplies, equipment and resources to properly treat migrants and the agents working there. Many questions remain unanswered, including how many children have died in CBP custody. With two deaths that we know about just in the last few weeks, Congress will continue to press the Department of Homeland Security until we get answers to all our questions.”