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Guatemalan boy, 8, dies in US immigration custody

Image: Migrants climb down a steep hill after giving up on trying to climb
Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, climb down a steep hill after giving up on trying to climb the border wall into the U.S. from Tijuana, Mexico, on December 13, 2018. -
Leah Millis Reuters
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An 8-year-old Guatemalan boy died of unknown causes in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection shortly after midnight on Christmas in New Mexico, the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

A Border Patrol agent noticed that the child, who was apprehended with his father, "showed signs of potential illness" on Monday, CBP said, citing initial reporting.

The father and son were then taken to a medical centre in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where the child was initially diagnosed with a common cold, according to the statement. When the boy was evaluated for release, hospital staff found a fever and he was held for an additional 90 minutes before being released on Monday afternoon, CBP said. The boy was given prescriptions for amoxicillin, an antibiotic, and the painkiller ibuprofen.

On Monday night, the boy was nauseous and began vomiting and was sent back to the same hospital but died shortly after midnight on Tuesday, the agency said.

The official cause of the child's death is still unknown and CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility will conduct a review, consistent with policy, according to the statement.

The Guatemalan government was notified and is in contact with the boy's father and family, the statement added.

The boy's death comes after Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, also of Guatemala, died in Border patrol custody earlier this month.

Her death sparked outrage and calls for an independent investigation.

CBP announced last week that it would begin informing Congress and the media within 24 hours after someone dies in its custody.