HOUSTON — An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died in government custody in New Mexico early Tuesday, U.S. immigration authorities said, marking the second death of an immigrant child in detention this month.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release that the boy died shortly after midnight.
The boy showed “signs of potential illness” on Monday and was taken with his father to a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the agency said. There, he was diagnosed with a cold and a fever, was given prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen and released Monday afternoon after being held 90 minutes for observation, the agency said.
The boy was returned to the hospital Monday evening with nausea and vomiting and died there just hours later, CBP said.
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.
CBP promised “an independent and thorough review of the circumstances.”
The border agency has not yet said when 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.
Alamogordo is about 90 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border at El Paso, Texas. Ruben Garcia, director of El Paso’s Annunciation House, said Tuesday that he had no reason to believe his shelter had served the family, but was waiting for further details about what happened.
A CBP spokesman declined to elaborate Tuesday, but said more details would be released shortly.
A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died earlier this month after being apprehended by border agents. The body of the girl, Jakelin Caal, was returned to her family’s remote village Monday.
CBP announced new notification procedures in response to Jakelin’s death, which was not revealed until several days later.
Democratic members of Congress and immigration advocates sharply criticized CBP’s handling of the death and questioned whether border agents could have prevented it by calling for an evacuation by air ambulance sooner. CBP has said that it took several hours to transport Jakelin and her father from a remote Border Patrol facility to a larger station and then a hospital in El Paso.
The death also 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. The White House did not immediately comment on the boy’s death Tuesday. CBP officers and the Border Patrol remain on the job despite the shutdown.