CBP Faces New Scrutiny After Second Child Dies in Their Custody

The agency has announced new policies in response.


|||Mani Albrecht/CBP/Cover Images/Newscom
Mani Albrecht/CBP/Cover Images/Newscom

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is under fire once again following the death of a young migrant in their care on Christmas Eve.

CNN reports that an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala was detained along with his father earlier in the week. A statement from CBP explained that he was taken to a hospital in New Mexico after an agent noticed signs of illness. He was initially diagnosed with a common cold following a medical evaluation. Later detection of a fever led to him being held for an additional 90 minutes in observation. Doctors eventually discharged him with prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen.

The young boy was returned to the hospital hours later after he began vomiting. He passed away that evening.

In a secondary statement about the boy's death, CBP announced updated procedures for the children in its care. Changes include secondary medical checks on detained children, identifying solutions to capacity issues, receiving medical assistance and aid from other departments, and putting additional focus on the care of children under 10 in their custody.

Earlier in the month, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl also passed away in CBP custody. Emergency responders determined that she had been without food and water for several days.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen responded to the death by speaking of the limitations of CBP agents to care for children. Other high-ranking officials have mentioned that the current facilities, which were designed for "male single adults," are struggling to house families.

Following the death of the young girl, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reacted much more bluntly. "This tragedy represents the worst possible outcome when people, including children, are held in inhumane conditions," ACLU Advocacy Manager Cynthia Pompa said in a statement. "Lack of accountability and a culture of cruelty within CBP have exacerbated policies that lead to migrant deaths."