Death of another child in US Mexico border within a week raises concern

Second Child Death in a Week

In less than week, another child migrant died along the US Mexico border due to lack of adequate basic amenities. The 7-year-old girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin of Guatemala had died of dehydration on December 19 in  US Border Patrol custody. Another young migrant, aged 8, died in American Custody on Christmas Day at the South-Western border.

The deaths of the children have raised serious doubts about the conditions in which migrants are being detained despite huge political outcry over the incident. These crowded facilities lack basic amenities, such as food and clothing, the absence of which could induce an individual into shock and trauma, following long and arduous walks to the border. It has proven fatal for two unfortunate children whose parents were attempting to flee violence and enter the United States in search of a better future.

The deceased who has not been named yet, passed away post midnight on Christmas Day at a hospital in New Mexico after showing signs of sickness at the detention center. He is confirmed to be from Guatemala, the same country Jakelin Caal Maquin hailed from. The cause of his sad demise is not yet known, although shock and trauma induced by long walks without adequate nutrition seems to be the most probable explanation.

At first, the boy had a cold, but staff at the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, later found that he also had a fever. He was kept under observation for an additional 90 minutes and released on Monday afternoon with prescriptions of common antibiotics and painkillers. On Monday night, the boy nauseated, prompting Border Patrol Authorities to shift him back to the hospital where he passed away.

Earlier, Border Patrol said the 7-Year-old girl Jakelin had died from dehydration, but her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cruz, disputed that assertion, saying he “made sure she was fed and had sufficient water.”

Medical professionals and advocates are of the view that the second death of a child at the border detention center highlighted the risks of keeping vulnerable children in overcrowded, often cold facilities.Children are not supposed to remain in the facilities for more than 72 hours.

Marsha Griffin, co-chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’s special interest group on immigrant health said: “These facilities are no place for a child… the conditions in which these children are being held are truly shocking; children who fall ill are not receiving adequate care. It’s cold, and they are susceptible to influenza and dehydration.”

After being detained by US border agents, children pass through certain facilities, some of which provide limited medical screening for diseases such as scabies, lice and chickenpox, according to a report released in May 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It said that complete medical histories and physical examinations are not conducted.

The living conditions inside these facilities are below par as detainees sleep on mats placed on the ground. Their belongings are taken away and they receive a thin blanket to cover themselves.

 Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, announced in April,called for prosecuting migrants who had crossed the border illegally. Border Patrol agents were supposed to arrest parents and sent their children to government shelters. However, this plan was later scrapped off due to massive public outrage. Since then,migrants have been arriving in large numbers through the southern border, seeking a better life.


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