EL PASO, Texas — An 8-year-old migrant’s last days were a blur of border patrol stations and hospital visits in a location about 2,000 miles from his family’s home in Guatemala.
The boy’s death while in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection comes just weeks after a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died while being held by CBP. He was identified as Felipe Alonzo-Gomez by US Rep. Joaquin Castro, but CBP did not name him.
The children’s deaths have highlighted the life-and-death challenges that migrants face in attempting to come to the US and caused CBP to announce several policy changes around its care of children under 10 years old.
CBP released the following timeline based on the current understanding of Felipe’s final days and the hours leading up to his death late Christmas Eve. The dates and times below are in local time.
About 1 p.m.
Felipe was apprehended with his father at a location about 3 miles west of the Paso Del Norte port of entry in El Paso, Texas for illegal entry.
That apprehension location is a less than 15-minute drive from the Paso Del Norte port, but groups may be detained in the field until transportation is available.
Felipe and his father were transferred to the Paso Del Norte processing center. While detained there, they were provided hot food, snacks, juice, and water, and the agents logged six welfare checks.
Felipe and his father were transferred to El Paso Border Patrol Station.
Over the next two days, Felipe and his father were provided with showers, food, juice, and water, and the agents logged 17 welfare checks.
Border Patrol transferred Felipe and his father to the Alamogordo Border Patrol Station in Alamogordo, New Mexico to finalize processing. They were transferred because of capacity levels at the El Paso station.
Alamogordo is about 80 miles away from the El Paso station.
Felipe and his father arrived at the Alamogordo Station. Upon arrival, they were provided with personal hygiene products and meals, and they received several welfare checks.
A placement request for Felipe and his father was emailed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations.
A processing agent noticed that the child was coughing and appeared to have glossy eyes. About 30 minutes later, based on the agents’ observations, Felipe was transferred to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo with possible influenza symptoms. He was accompanied by his father.
Hospital staff conducted several tests on Felipe for strep throat.
Felipe was given a diagnosis of common cold and given Tylenol.
He was evaluated for release and found to have a 103 degree fever and was held for continued observation.
Felipe was released from the emergency room with a prescription for Ibuprofen and amoxicillin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic.
He and his father were transported to temporary holding at the Highway 70 checkpoint. While at the checkpoint, Felipe and his father were offered and accepted a hot meal.
About 5 p.m.
Agents provided Felipe with a dose of the prescribed medication as ordered by the medical staff, and agents conducted several welfare checks that evening.
Felipe appeared to be nauseous and vomited. Agents were aware of this and helped clean up the vomit. His father declined further medical assistance as the child had been feeling better.
Felipe appeared lethargic and nauseous again.
Because no EMT was on duty, out of caution, agents made the decision to return Felipe and his father to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center.
During transportation to the hospital, he began to vomit and lost consciousness.
Radio traffic indicated that the agent had arrived at the medical center, where he was met by hospital staff.
Hospital staff were unable to revive Felipe and pronounced him dead.
The Guatemalan Consulate was contacted about the child’s death. His father is currently detained at the Alamogordo Station pending transfer to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations. He has spoken to his spouse in Guatemala and the Guatemalan Consulate.
The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry issues a statement that it was alerted to a minor’s death in the US. Guatemala’s Consul General in Phoenix Oscar Padilla Lam traveled to Alamogordo to meet with the boy’s father to “hear his version of the facts,” according to the statement.
The Foreign Ministry said it will provide all assistance and consular protection to the boy’s father and assume responsibility for the repatriation of the boy’s remains.