- Two US immigration officials were cleared of wrongdoing in the cases of two migrant children’s deaths.
- The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General released reports detailing its conclusions on conditions surrounding the deaths of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal on December 8, 2018, and 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo on December 24, 2018.
- The watchdog previously criticized Border Patrol for „dangerous overcrowding“ amid „an acute and worsening crisis“ in its detention facilities.
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The Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog has cleared officials 0f wrongdoing in the cases of two migrant children’s deaths.
The Associated Press reported that the watchdog previously issued a report that criticized Border Patrol for „dangerous overcrowding“ amid „an acute and worsening crisis“ in its Rio Grande Valley detention facilities.
Photos and statements in the report detailed dangerously strained space and resources in the facility, piling on to the concerns months after the children died about the threats facing migrant families while in US custody.
Jakelin died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas, eight hours after Customs and Border Protection took her into custody.
According to a timeline released by CBP, agents first became aware of the girl’s symptoms during a bus ride to a Border Patrol station after the girl was apprehended with a larger group of migrants.
By the time the group arrived at the station 90 minutes later, Jakelin had stopped breathing.
Border Patrol officials said agents did „everything in their power“ to save the girl but that she had not had food or water for days. They added that an initial screening showed no evidence of health problems and that her father had signed a form indicating she was in good health.
In Felipe’s case, he also died not long after crossing the border. He and his father arrived at a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he was found to have a fever of 103 degrees. Staff diagnosed him with a common cold, and released him just before 3 p.m., according to the Associated Press. He was then reportedly prescribed the antibiotic Amoxicillin and the painkiller Ibuprofen before he was taken with his father to a holding facility.
By 10 p.m., his condition appeared to have worsened, and he died shortly before midnight.
The Jakelin and Felipe’s deaths were just two of several reported child fatalities that prompted scrutiny over CBP’s medical care for migrant children. The Trump administration noted at the time that there was a surge in border crossings that put immense pressure on the facilities and overwhelmed agents and staff.
President Donald Trump has since backed down on his daily claims of a „crisis“ at the US-Mexico border, but immigration and conditions at the border have been ongoing headaches for the administration, and will likely get a renewed spotlight as the 2020 US presidential election draws closer.
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