The Slatest

An 8-Year-Old Guatemalan Migrant Died in U.S. Custody on Christmas Day

An employee of a funeral home loads into a hearse a coffin with the repatriated remains of seven-year-old Guatemalan migrant girl Jakelin Caal Maquin upon arrival in Guatemala City before being taken to her native San Antonio Seacortez village, in Raxruha 320 km north of the capital.
An employee of a funeral home loads into a hearse a coffin with the repatriated remains of seven-year-old Guatemalan migrant girl Jakelin Caal Maquin upon arrival in Guatemala City before being taken to her native San Antonio Seacortez village, in Raxruha 320 km north of the capital.
ORLANDO ESTRADA/Getty Images

An eight-year-old boy from Guatemala died early on Christmas Day while he was in the custody of the U.S. government. It marks the second death of a migrant child while detained by U.S: Customs and Border Patrol this month. The boy, who died shortly after midnight Tuesday, showed “signs of potential illness” Monday was taken to a hospital in New Mexico.

The boy, who has not been publicly identified, was diagnosed with a cold although he was later found to have a fever and was held for an additional 90 minutes. He was later released with prescriptions but his illness worsened Monday night, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release. He threw up and was taken back to the hospital, where he died a few hours later.

The cause of the boy’s death is still not known and Customs and Border Patrol vowed to carry out a thorough investigation.

This death comes mere weeks after Jakelin Caal, a seven-year-old from Guatemala, died of dehydration and shock shortly after she was picked up by border agents. Her body was returned to her family’s village Monday. Felipe González Morales, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, has called for a thorough independent investigation into Caal’s death. “When a person, especially a child, is in the custody of a state, that state has to ensure their rights,” González told the Guardian. “States have an obligation to care for migrants who arrive at the border, they cannot treat them as animals in inhuman conditions. I’m not saying this happened in this case, but the U.S. has a duty in this regard.”