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Customs and Border Protection to Conduct Health Checks on Minors After Second Child Dies While in Custody

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will conduct health checks on all minors under 10 in its custody after a second died within three weeks, according to the Associated Press.

The decision comes after 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo from Guatemala died early Christmas Day, as the New York Times reported. The child and his father were initially brought to a hospital the day before with complaints of illness. Staff monitored him for 90 minutes and then released him in the afternoon with a prescription for the common antibiotic amoxicillin as well as ibuprofen. In the evening, he began vomiting and was readmitted. Cause of death was unknown.

In the middle of December, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, died of dehydration and shock according to officials. But her father disputed CBP claims that she had not eaten or had water for days before being taken into custody.

Immigration advocates and medical professionals say that the overcrowded facilities where children are kept have gained the nickname “hieleras,” Spanish for ice boxes. “The conditions in which these children are being held are truly shocking,” Dr. Marsha Griffin, a pediatrician practicing near the U.S.-Mexico border and co-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’s special interest group on immigrant health, told the Times.