JUAREZ, MEXICO — An eight year-old Guatemalan boy who died final month in Customs and Border Safety custody wasn’t sick when he and his father left an immigrant shelter right here shortly earlier than being detained by Customs and Border Safety brokers outdoors of El Paso, Texas, a shelter official informed BuzzFeed Information Wednesday.
Felipe Alonzo Gomez died in December whereas sick with influenza, after being held in CBP custody for per week. President Donald Trump has sought responsible the kid’s demise on his father, claiming in a tweet that Felipe was “very sick earlier than they got over to Border Patrol.”
However in line with Blanca Alicia Rivera, who manages the Casa del Migrante shelter in Juarez, Gomez wasn’t sick when he and his father determined to cross the border between checkpoints on December 18.
“Felipe was right here. He was in excellent well being situation,” Rivera mentioned, including that not solely does the shelter have medical doctors on name to display immigrants who come to the shelter, “we gained’t allow them to go away in the event that they’re sick.”
The Gomez’ had initially arrived in Juarez with plans to ask for asylum at one of many official ports of entry alongside the US-Mexico border close to El Paso. Nonetheless, like lots of of different asylum seekers, they discovered themselves caught ready outdoors official border crossings as a result of CBP’s “metering” coverage, which has sharply curtailed the variety of asylum requests border officers course of every day.
With in a single day temperatures in Juarez dipping into the 30s, native officers have begun taking the asylum seekers just like the Gomez household to the Casa del Migrante shelter to attend, typically for weeks, for the prospect to be processed by CBP. Whereas some decide to remain on the shelter, lots of of others have determined to cross the border between the official crossing factors, after which flip themselves over to CBP official when they’re apprehended — a choice that enables them to avoid the asylum “metering” coverage.
Though the Gomez’ crossed the border into El Paso’s metropolis limits, lots of extra have gone a lot additional into the desert, crossing into distant components of New Mexico and Arizona which might be extraordinarily harmful. Gomez and his son have been detained by CBP and Felipe was held custody for per week, in line with the company. The eight-year outdated was moved to a number of amenities throughout that point, together with a distant detention space in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
On Christmas Eve, Felipe started to indicate indicators of sickness, and he was taken to a close-by hospital. Though he was initially launched and brought to a CBP freeway checkpoint for holding, he was returned to the hospital after his conditioned worsened. He died simply earlier than midnight on Christmas Eve.
Felipe is certainly one of a minimum of two youngsters who’ve died in CBP’s custody in latest weeks. Seven year-old Jakelin Caal died on Dec. Eight whereas within the company’s custody, and a minimum of one different migrant little one practically died from cardiac arrest in early November, however was revived by hospital personnel in El Paso. All three youngsters had been within the custody of CBP’s El Paso sector, which between November and December noticed important upticks in households crossing distant components of the border to hunt asylum within the US.
The Juarez Casa del Migrante has additionally seen important will increase of immigrants, in line with Rivera. On Tuesday night time, greater than 270 males, girls, and kids stayed within the shelter, practically double the quantity of people that usually keep every night time. Within the final two months the shelter has served a minimum of 4,000 immigrants, Rivera mentioned.
Rivera additionally dismissed claims by Trump administration officers — together with the president and his Division of Homeland Safety Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen — that immigrants coming to the border are bringing with them illness and illness, overwhelming the capacities of the federal authorities. “We haven’t had any issues right here, as a result of we offer medical remedy,” she mentioned.
Requested if the shelter has had any youngsters or adults die whereas of their care, Rivera shook her head. “No in fact not,” she mentioned. (BuzzFeed Information was not in a position to verify this declare.)
US Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who represents El Paso, warned that Congress will proceed to press the Division of Homeland Safety for solutions about Gomez’ demise. “As many questions stay unanswered concerning the circumstances surrounding Felipe’s tragic demise, one factor is evident: Congress will proceed to hunt solutions to make sure that each little one and household receives correct medical care to cease extra tragedies like this from taking place once more,” Escobar mentioned.