Featured Issue: Conditions in CBP Custody

On December 8, 2018, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old girl from Guatemala died after being taken into custody with her father by CBP in Lordsburg, New Mexico. On December 25, 2018, a second child, Felipe Gomez Alonzo, an eight-year-old boy from Guatemala, died while in CBP custody. While the exact circumstances of his death are unknown, CBP has provided a timeline and claimed he exhibited flu-like symptoms before his death.

On December 25, DHS issued a statement, “DHS has continued to see a dramatic increase in unaccompanied children and family units arriving at our borders illegally or without authorization. Consistent with existing law, these individuals are held at federal facilities pending their removal or release into the interior of the United States with a notice to appear at a court hearing. During their period of detention they received medical screenings and further treatment as needed.”

As a result of this second death, the Washington Post reports that CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan said the Border Patrol would conduct health checks of all children in its “care and custody,” whether they arrived in the United States as part of a family or were unaccompanied. The health reviews will focus on children under 10.

NPR reports that at least four children have been admitted to the hospital as a result of the screenings.

On December 26, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued a statement that sought to deflect blame for Christmas eve death, blaming “a system that prevents parents who bring their children on a dangerous and illegal journey from facing consequences for their actions.”

Government Announcements

Government Reports

Congressional Action

AILA Resources

Response and Resources from Advocates

Media Response

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 18122608.