Guatemalan Toddler, 2, Dies In US Custody After Being Detained At U.S.-Mexico Border

Guatemalan toddler, 2, dies in US custody after being detained at border

Weeks after he was detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, a 2½-year-old migrant from Guatemala died Tuesday after an apparent bout of pneumonia, according to multiple reports.

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The boy, who was not immediately identified, is the fourth Guatemalan child known to have died after being apprehended at the border since December, CNN reported.

Tekandi Paniagua, the consul for Guatemala in Del Rio, Texas, told The Associated Press and The Washington Post that the boy came into the U.S. through El Paso, Texas, in early April with his mother. It was not immediately clear when the boy fell ill, though an official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Post his mother alerted Border Patrol agents to his health April 6. The official said he was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Horizon City later that day and later transferred to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso.

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Paniagua told the AP that authorities took the boy to the hospital with a high fever and difficulty breathing. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and hospitalized for about a month before his death, according to the AP.

Paniagua told the Post the boy’s death remains under investigation.

Authorities are also investigating the April 30 death of Juan de Leon Gutierrez, a 16-year-old migrant from Guatemala who died after officials at a Texas youth detention facility noticed he was sick. His cause of death remained unclear Thursday.

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In December, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died of dehydration and septic shock two days after she was taken to a Border Patrol station, CNN reported. The news network reported 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo died of flu complicated by sepsis weeks later, on Christmas Eve, while he was in U.S. custody. Both children were from Guatemala.

Advocates have long questioned the Border Patrol’s ability to care for the thousands of parents and children in its custody. The agency says it’s overwhelmed by the surge of migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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