Another Child Dies In ICE Custody

For the second time in less than a month, a child has died in the “care” of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In response to public outcry, the agency says it will step up medical examinations of children in custody, though it could eliminate this problem altogether by not holding children (or anyone else) in immigration detention.

At the best of times, the conditions in ICE facilities are extremely poor, and detained people have few options for addressing health, safety and human rights complaints. The high costs of dangerous conditions are on display yet again this week with this death.

And the agency’s general ineptitude is also on show thanks to an incident where ICE used Christmas Day to drop off 100 immigrants with no resources or support in downtown El Paso, Texas, washing its hands of them and forcing local service organizations to scramble to fill the gap.

According to ICE, the eight-year-old boy who died was apprehended with his father on December 18 and shuffled through several facilities before showing signs of being ill on Christmas Eve. Providers initially said he had a cold, but when they registered a 103-degree fever, they gave him antibiotics and ibuprofen. Later that night, the boy started vomiting and lost consciousness. He was sent to a hospital, where he died, and an autopsy is planned to learn more about what happened, while the Guatemalan government is demanding an investigation into the circumstances of his death.

This death comes just weeks after Jakelin Caal Maquin, age seven, died in ICE custody, prompting a furious response from both Congress and the American public. Congress demanded more accountability, including public transparency about deaths in custody. Elected officials also expressed concerns about the quality of health care available to detainees. These are not the first instances of deaths in custody that might have been averted with prompt, comprehensive, and competent medical care, while the notoriously cold and poorly-maintained conditions in ICE facilities have been widely condemned.

Customs and Border Patrol sees large numbers of unaccompanied children every month — over 5,000 in November alone, with thousands more apprehended with their families. All told, some 15,000 children are being held in immigration detention, with facilities overcrowded and unable to meet their needs, and in some cases they’re kept in wildly inappropriate “housing” like repurposed office buildings.

These same children are being rushed through deportation proceedings with no representation or understanding of what is happening. The agency notoriously lost track of thousands of children earlier this year, raising questions about the quality of its recordkeeping practices.

Deaths of anyone in immigration detention are a needless tragedy created via deliberate policy choices by the Trump administration. The president’s hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric has been enthusiastically embraced by the appointees who oversee agencies like Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their decisions about the value of human lives have led to deaths and suffering in custody, as well as, in some cases, permanent family separation.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Congress is taking a growing interest in the conditions at ICE facilities and contacting your elected officials to express your concerns about this can drive the point home: America is watching. If you’re represented by conservatives who don’t support compassionate immigration reform, it’s still worth expressing your concerns, especially if they’ve been vocal in the past about child welfare issues.

Take Action

Care2 activists are calling for answers in the deaths of Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe Alonzo-Gomez.

Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue

57 comments

Helen C
Helen C24 days ago

What a shame

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 months ago

I find it rather odd and biased that people are so quick to blame Trump, when ICE is following the protocols set by the Clinton administration.

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Karen H
Karen H2 months ago

Trump doesn't care about his own children - how can we expect him to care about anyone else's?

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Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E2 months ago

david f drags out his VERY overused "gumball immigration" propaganda then has the NERVE to have not one shred of decency about the children who died. He wouldn't know truth or FACTUAL news if it landed on one of his guns.

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David F
David F2 months ago

Gumball immigration, youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPjzfGChGlE

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David F
David F2 months ago

The very Democrats and Fake News that are wholly responsible for the death of these children, are imbalanced enough to blame Trump and those trying to reduce the chaos in sanctuary cities and at our border by building the wall.

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Awful.

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Paul B
Paul B2 months ago

Joan E... why can't they stay in Mexico which has offered safe haven and refugee status there. Why come all the way to the US and try to "break into the country" by illegally crossing the border. They can apply for refugee status like everyone else. Get in line.

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Paul B
Paul B2 months ago

So maybe these parents should reconsider dragging their kids through the desert or in otherwise very dangerous conditions. No where in this article did it mention the father refused treatment or taking ANY responsibility for his kids illness or treatment, or the fact that he put the kid in harm's way from the start.
Quit blaming ICE for doing their job and put the responsibility where it belongs, with the parents.

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Sherry K
Sherry Kohn2 months ago

OMG !

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