Agents did everything they could to save children: CBP chief on two kids who died in US detention centre

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 30, 2018, 09.39 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, was the second Guatemalan child to die this month while being held by US authorities, sparking outrage from immigration advocates.

US Customs and Border Protection agents did everything they could to get medical help for two children who subsequently died in their custody, the CBP chief Kevin McAleenan said on Sunday.

McAleenan told ABC's "This Week" it had been a decade since a child had died in the agency's custody and the loss of two Guatemalan children in three weeks has been "absolutely devastating."

Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, was the second Guatemalan child to die this month while being held by US authorities, sparking outrage from immigration advocates.

The boy's death followed the death in early December of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal, also from Guatemala. She died after being detained along with her father by US border agents in a remote part of New Mexico.

"Our agents did everything they could, as soon as these children manifested symptoms of illness, to save their lives," McAleenan said.

After the second death, the CBP said it will conduct secondary medical checks on all children in its custody, with a focus on those under 10.

Meanwhile, Trump earlier in the day blamed Democrats for the death of migrant children crossing into the US.

The US President personally took to Twitter saying, "Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally."

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Trump has made hardline immigration policies a central plank of his presidency, drawing fire from critics who accuse him of demonizing migrants for political gain.

He is locked in a battle with Congress over funding for his planned border wall, which he claims will stem migration from Latin American countries plagued by gang violence and poverty.

(With inputs from news agencies)