An eight-year-old boy from Guatemala has died in US government custody, becoming the second migrant child to pass away while in the administration’s care this month.
The US authorities did not name the child but a US congressman and Guatemala official confirmed he was called Felipe Gomez Alonzo.
Felipe had begun to feel unwell on Christmas Eve and was taken to hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, with his father, according to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
He was diagnosed with a fever, given drugs and initially released but returned later on Christmas Eve once he begun vomiting and feeling nauseous. He then passed away. The exact cause of the death was not announced.
A Guatemalan official told the Associated Press that the boy’s father said they had been travelling to Tennessee and that his son had been in "perfect health".
Oscar Padilla, the Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, said he had talked to the father, 47-year-old Agustin Gomez, by telephone about what happened.
The death came just weeks after another Guatemalan, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal, died in a hospital shortly after being apprehended by border agents.
The girl had died of dehydration and shock after crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father.
The CBP said it is conducting new medical checks on every child in its custody after Felipe’s death. The agency said it is "considering options for surge medical assistance" from the US Coast Guard and potentially other departments.
Joaquin Castro, a US congressman and chairman elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he was “deeply saddened” by the news of a second death.
Mr Castro said in a statement: “Many questions remain unanswered, including how many children have died in CBP custody.
“With two deaths that we know about just in the last few weeks, Congress will continue to press the Department of Homeland Security until we get answers to all our questions.”
Earlier this year, Donald Trump, the US president, faced a fierce backlash over his administration’s policy of separating children of illegal migrants from their parents when they cross into America together.
The policy was used as the Trump administration implemented a strategy of “extreme” vetting of migrants. The US president eventually signed an executive order ending family separation.
An Associated Press investigation found this month that most of the 14,300 migrant toddlers, children and teens in US care had been placed in detention centers and residential facilities packed with hundreds or thousands of children.