(JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images) The mother of 8-year-old migrant Felipe Gomez, Catarina Alonzo, stands outside her home in Guatemala.(WASHINGTON) — The death of an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy in government custody on Christmas Eve was caused by complications from the flu and a bacterial infection in his lungs, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday by a U.S. medical examiner.
The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator said Felipe Gomez Alonzo died of complications from the influenza B infection which damaged his lungs, “allowing a generalized infection.”
“Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time,” Chief Medical Investigator Kurt Nolte said in a statement. “We investigate deaths to serve the living and hope the family can find some closure in these findings.”
Gomez Alonzo had been apprehended with his father near El Paso, Texas on Dec. 18 and was transferred to several facilities before arriving at the Alamogordo Border Patrol Station, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. On Dec. 24, he was taken to a local medical center, where he was diagnosed with having a “common cold and given Tylenol.” It was noted that he had a 103-degree fever for the duration of his medical visit, according to a CBP timeline. He was prescribed amoxicillin before being released, but died later that night.
The autopsy report noted that diphenhydramine was in the boy’s system, which is a commonly used antihistamine.
His official death was listed as “complications of influenza B infection with Staphylococcus aureus superinfection and sepsis.”
The boy’s death was the second of a migrant child in U.S. custody that month and was considered alarming to U.S. officials because he had spent several days in government custody.
Seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin also died in December, about a day after being apprehended by Border Patrol agents with her father at a remote part of the border in New Mexico.
The children’s deaths triggered an outcry by Democrats and immigration advocates who blamed the Trump administration for not doing more to address the humanitarian crisis at the border. At the time, President Donald Trump pushed back, blaming the girl’s parents for not giving her water — an allegation the family denies and at odds with her autopsy report.
The El Paso County Medical Examiner’s office said the girl died of a bacterial infection.
Trump also has blamed Democrats for the children’s deaths.
After Gomez Alonzo died, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called for additional medical resources to be sent to the border and ordered new protocols to screen migrants — particularly children — upon their arrival for any symptoms of illness.
Earlier this week, Nielsen asked Congress for the authority to immediately deport unaccompanied minors back to their home countries.
“Now we face a system-wide meltdown,” Nielsen wrote in a letter.
Nielsen is visiting the Texas and Arizona border this week, following estimates that the number of migrants stopped at the border could reach 1 million this year. Trump has threatened to shut down the border if Mexico doesn’t do more to stop migrants from reaching the United States.
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