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US gives migrant kids medical checkups after 2 deaths

US authorities are giving migrant children medical exams after two Guatemalan youngsters under age 10 died in US custody in December 2018. EFE-EPA /File

US authorities are giving migrant children medical exams after two Guatemalan youngsters under age 10 died in US custody in December 2018. EFE-EPA /File

EFE

Authorities have begun giving medical checkups to all migrant children in US custody after earlier this week a second Guatemalan child died after crossing illegally into the US from Mexico and being detained.

Children younger than 10 will have priority in receiving the checkups, according to a statement issued by Customs and Border Protection.

In remarks to the press, officials with the Department of Homeland Security, which is tasked with implementing immigration policy and overseeing the CBP, said that “95 percent” of the migrant children in US custody have already undergone medical exams, which are being provided after an initial check by healthcare personnel at the time of their detention.

The officials did not say what the exams include and also provided no details about how many minors are currently in US custody.

Just in Fiscal 2018 - from October 2017 through September 2018 - almost 400,00 immigrants arrived in the US, of which 50,000 were minors who were traveling alone without their parents.

Meanwhile, the Border Patrol announced Wednesday that it is evaluating the care provided to children under age 10 when they are detained and in the first 24 hours they are in custody.

On Christmas Eve, an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy identified as Felipe Gomez Alonzo died in a New Mexico hospital for as yet unknown reasons after he had been under the supervision of the Border Patrol for more than a week.

US government regulations establish that immigrants may not be held for more than 72 hours in CBP facilities, which are normally used for the temporary holding of apprehended migrants and do not have the resources to guarantee the wellbeing of youngsters.

THe CBP said that the boy and his father were detained on Dec. 18 after illegally crossing the border at El Paso and were held at a CBP processing center and ultimately transferred on Dec. 23 to Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The next day, a border agent noted that the boy was showing signs of illness and he was transported to the Gerald Champion Regional Hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with a cold and fever and, after prescribing ibuprofen and amoxicillin, kept him under observation for 90 minutes and then released him.

However, the boy’s condition worsened and immigration agents returned him to the hospital, where he died at 11:48 pm on Christmas Eve, according to the CBP, which initially had said that he had died on Christmas Day.

Gomez Alonzo is the second child to die in December in US custody. On Dec. 8, 7-year-old Guatemalan girl Jakelin Caal Maquin died in an El Paso hospital after illegally crossing the border from Mexico with her father.

DHS officials said that there has been an increase in the number of migrants arriving in the US with some kind of illness and they are now investigating whether these people became infected in one of the shelters in Mexico where they had stayed before crossing the border.


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