The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has ordered all children detained at the border with Mexico to undergo a medical examination, following the death of an 8-year-old boy and a girl 7 years old.
In particular, CBP will perform additional medical examinations on all children in its custody. Children under 10 years old will be especially watched.
“We are reviewing our procedures with special attention to the custody and detention of children under the age of 10,” said CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.
The number of children detained, who will therefore be subjected to a medical examination, remains unknown for the time being, the Customs and Border Protection Service said.
With the increase in border crossings, the cases of thousands of children – alone or with their parents – are treated each month, says CBP.
CBP called on other government agencies to help provide needed care. It plans to seek the assistance of the Coast Guard, the Departments of Health and Social Services and Defense, and the Federal Emergency Agency.
The agency will also work with immigration services to improve the conditions for migrating migrants to family shelters. The housing issue will also be reviewed.
Human rights and immigration groups have sharply criticized CBP after the deaths of two children, Felipe Gomez Alonzo and Jakelin Caal , this month in New Mexico.
According to Amnesty International Director Margaret Huang, the Trump administration’s immigration policies are “cruel” to migrants and asylum seekers at the border. “They must stop immediately before other children are injured,” she says.
An unusual situation
The 8-year-old boy and his father were detained by US authorities at the border for nearly a week after their arrest on 18 December. Migrants traveling from Mexico to the United States are usually detained for only a few days by CBP agents before being released or transferred to the Immigration Police (ICE).
CBP did not detail the circumstances surrounding this prolonged detention, only stating that the officers of the Service had repeatedly checked the condition of the boy.
He was transferred Monday with his father to the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, after showing “signs of possible illness.” He was released soon after with prescribed medications, but eventually died after being readmitted to the hospital in the evening.
The causes of death have not been established, CBP said, promising “an independent and thorough review of the circumstances” in which it occurred.
Felipe Gomez Alonzo and his 47-year-old father had come all the way from Nenton, 450 km from Guatemala City, said Oscar Padilla, the consul of Guatemala based in Phoenix, who said he had spoken with the father of the child by phone.
Originally from a small Mayan village in the west of the country, they had the idea of going to Johnson City, in the US state of Tennessee.
The death of the child, sixteen days after that of a seven-year-old girl, also an illegal migrant from Guatemala, has aroused strong emotion in the United States, Democrats lashing out at “contempt for human life” the Trump administration and calling for “an end to this anti-migrant policy”.
Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, who will be sitting on January 3 in the House of Representatives on behalf of the 2nd District of New Mexico, called for a transparent investigation. More medical resources need to be deployed at the border, she said.
“This is unforgivable. Instead of ensuring the safety of children […] at the border, the administration prefers to paralyze the state in the name of a wall, “she said.
She was referring to the budgetary impasse in which the country has been plunged since Friday because of the contentious border wall project demanded by President Trump.
Despite the paralysis of the state, officers of the Customs and Border Protection remain in office.
With information from Associated Press , Reuters and Agence France-Presse
Clint Hill was born and raised near the pine barrens in New Jersey. As a journalist, Clint has contributed to many online publications including The Street and Engaget. In regards to academics, Clint earned a degree in business from Rutgers University. Clint covers economy stories here at slap Coffee.