The parents of an 8-year-old boy who died after crossing the U.S. border illegally with his family say they thought bringing their underage child to the U.S. would help their chances of being allowed to stay.
The Hill reports that the mother of Felipe Gómez Alonzo, who died on Christmas Eve in a New Mexico hospital while in the custody of U.S. immigration authorities, has admitted her son traveled with her husband to the U.S. “in order to better their family's chances of being approved to stay in the U.S.”
Catarina Alonzo told Reuters in an interview that other migrants with children were able to cross into the U.S. after being held in detention for a month or more at a time, which many migrants see as the easiest way to make it into the United States.
“Lots of them have gone with children and managed to cross, even if they’re held for a month or two. But they always manage to get across easily,” Alonzo said, according to Reuters.
Just as in the case of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal, who died of sepsis at a Texas hospital while in CBP custody from an infection she'd picked up along her journey to the U.S., Democrats have used Alonzo's death to criticize border agents' handling of migrant children in their care, despite immigration officials' documented record of providing medical attention to sick children being held in border facilities.
Medical officials have said the little boy tested positive for influenza B, which may have caused his death. According to a timeline of events, border agents transported the little boy to the hospital after he first started showing signs of being sick. After being diagnosed with a cold, the child was discharged from the hospital with medication and returned to the border detention facility.
When the little boy began throwing up, CBP said his father "declined further medical treatment." CBP said they eventually sent the boy back to the hospital when his symptoms began to worsen. He passed away about two hours later.