{"code":"24603","sect":"Centroam\u00e9rica","sect_slug":"centroamerica","hits":"359","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202007\/centroamerica\/24603","link_edit":"","name":"A Father Struggles to Cope After Son Dies in Border Patrol Custody","slug":"a-father-struggles-to-cope-after-son-dies-in-border-patrol-custody","info":"","mtag":"Migration","noun":{"html":"Anna-Catherine Brigida","data":{"anna-catherine-brigida":{"sort":"","slug":"anna-catherine-brigida","path":"anna_catherine_brigida","name":"Anna-Catherine Brigida","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"359","pict":{"cms-image-000034016-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"34016","name":"cms-image-000034016.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034016.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034016.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000034016-jpg","text":"<p>Felipe's bike is one of the only toys that his family still has. Now, his younger brothers ride it around their home in Yalambojoch.\u00a0<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFelipe's bike is one of the only toys that his family still has. Now, his younger brothers ride it around their home in Yalambojoch.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000034017-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"34017","name":"cms-image-000034017.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034017.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034017.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000034017-jpg","text":"<p>Felipe's uncle Andr\u00e9s G\u00f3mez poses outside the family's home in August 2019. He was deported from the U.S. the day before.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFelipe's uncle Andr\u00e9s G\u00f3mez poses outside the family's home in August 2019. He was deported from the U.S. the day before.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000034018-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"34018","name":"cms-image-000034018.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034018.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034018.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000034018-jpg","text":"<p>Felipe's brother and his old bike.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFelipe's brother and his old bike.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000034019-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"34019","name":"cms-image-000034019.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034019.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000034019.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000034019-jpg","text":"<p>Felipe's brother,\u00a0Mateo, seven years old, stands by the door to the family's kitchen.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFelipe's brother,\u00a0Mateo, seven years old, stands by the door to the family's kitchen.\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":34016,"date":{"live":"2020\/07\/03"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2020","data_post_dateLive_MM":"07","data_post_dateLive_DD":"03","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAgust\u00edn G\u00f3mez tries to live by the principle that the past is the past. But he still struggles to accept that he can no longer do anything for his son, Felipe, who died in the care of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in December 2018 shortly after crossing the border.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cIt was like I died with my son,\u201d G\u00f3mez, 48, said in a phone interview. \u201cAnd I\u2019m still really sad.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EFelipe was the second of five Guatemalan minors to die in U.S. custody from December 2018 to May 2019. An autopsy later revealed he died of complications from influenza B and sepsis. After his death, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the parent agency of CBP, ordered an internal investigation into the handling of the case. The resulting\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.oig.dhs.gov\/news\/press-releases\/2019\/12202019\/dhs-oig-completes-investigation-death-eight-year-old-guatemalan-child\"\u003Ereport\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0published in December 2019 found no misconduct or malfeasance by DHS employees in charge of the boy\u2019s care.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EMonths after DHS closed its investigation, the nonprofit ethics watchdog American Oversight published previously unseen government\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.americanoversight.org\/document\/cbp-documents-regarding-roxsana-hernandez-and-felipe-gomez-alonzo\"\u003Edocuments\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0containing affidavits from CBP personnel with information about Felipe\u2019s death. When I spoke with him recently, Gomez disputed some claims in the affidavits about the care that his son received and his approval of it. \u201cI\u2019m not very convinced\u201d that they gave him the proper care, G\u00f3mez said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAfter reviewing official CBP documents, the death investigation, autopsy and toxicology report, some discrepancies within the official government account of events leading up to Felipe\u2019s death came to light. More than 18 months after his death, Felipe\u2019s family is still left wondering if more could have been done to save the healthy, young boy who left his misty mountain town in Guatemala in December 2018.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003E\u201cHere, everything is difficult\u201d\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EYalambojoch, Huehuetenango is a community of mainly subsistence farmers nestled in the mountains near the Guatemalan border with Mexico. A mom-and-pop corner store \u2014 said to be built with remittance money \u2014 stands at the center of town. Chickens wander in and out. The town\u2019s winding roads are muddy from the intermittent drizzle.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFelipe\u2019s family house \u2014 built with cinder blocks and a tin roof \u2014 sits atop a small hill. His mother Catarina Alonzo and her three surviving children live off the maize and beans that grow on the small plot of land G\u00f3mez inherited from his father.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=5184&ImageHeight=3456&ImageId=34019\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Felipe's brother,\u00a0Mateo, seven years old, stands by the door to the family's kitchen.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EFelipe's brother,\u00a0Mateo, seven years old, stands by the door to the family's kitchen.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cHere, we just eat beans but there [in the U.S.], there is food. The kids grow more quickly,\u201d said Alonzo in her native indigenous Mayan language, Chuj. She was sitting in her kitchen on a foggy morning in August 2019. \u201cHere, everything is difficult,\u201d added G\u00f3mez\u2019s brother Andr\u00e9s, who translated the interview to Spanish.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENGOs and government assistance rarely reaches this remote mountain town. Politicians seldom leave the congested streets of Guatemala City to make the eight hour drive through the western highlands to the clearer air of these humble towns of Huehuetenango. In turn, residents hardly ever venture on the multi-bus journey to the country\u2019s political hub.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAnd yet, from even farther away, el norte\u2019s footprint on the collective consciousness of Yalambojoch\u2014 as reflected in the polished houses built by remittances sent from North Carolina, Texas, or Tennessee\u2014may be stronger than that of the nation\u2019s own capital.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cPeople migrate because they don\u2019t have opportunities,\u201d said Rudi Gordillo Velasco, mayor of Nent\u00f3n, Huehuetenango, the municipality where Yalambojoch is located. \u201cThey don\u2019t have jobs. Their harvests are all lost and even if they do have a good year, the problem is there is no market for their product.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMigration from the region dates back to at least the 1980s, when the country was in the throes of an armed conflict between government forces and an array of leftist rebel groups. Many indigenous Mayan peasants from places like Yalambojoch took up arms to demand land rights and an end to racism and political exclusion.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAgust\u00edn was born in 1972, 12 years into the armed conflict that ended in 1996. As a guerrilla hotspot, the frequent shoot-outs in Yalambojoch meant daily life was thrown in disarray and villagers lived in fear. Teachers stopped coming to school. \u201cThey were scared of the guerrillas,\u201d Andr\u00e9s said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe family fled across the border to Mexico, as did many of their neighbors. When the fighting died down months later, they were able to come back under a UN refugee resettlement program.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA peace agreement in 1996 included changes to the Guatemalan constitution meant to promote social inclusion of the country\u2019s many indigenous groups, including a land distribution program. But more than two decades later inequality remains rampant in the majority-indigenous department of Huehuetenango, said Gordillo Velasco. Communities lack basic infrastructure like roads, running water, and access to quality healthcare and education.\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/reliefweb.int\/report\/guatemala\/guatemala-acute-food-insecurity-situation-december-2019-march-2020-and-projection\"\u003E\u00a0Food insecurity\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0and\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.care.org\/sites\/default\/files\/documents\/Trip-Report-Learning-Tour-to-Guatemala-and-Honduras.pdf\"\u003Emalnutrition\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0remain serious issues.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWithout a formal education, the G\u00f3mez brothers must plant maize and beans to survive. \u201cThey made peace,\u201d Andr\u00e9s said. \u201cBut there\u2019s no help for us.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=5184&ImageHeight=3456&ImageId=34017\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Felipe's uncle Andr\u00e9s G\u00f3mez poses outside the family's home in August 2019. He was deported from the U.S. the day before.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EFelipe's uncle Andr\u00e9s G\u00f3mez poses outside the family's home in August 2019. He was deported from the U.S. the day before.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EHeading North\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBy December 2018, Catarina was pregnant again. So G\u00f3mez took out a loan of 60,000 quetzales, or nearly $7,800 dollars, for a coyote and decided to go to the United States.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhen Felipe found out his father was leaving, he cried and begged to go with him. His father relented. He couldn\u2019t say no to little Felipe. G\u00f3mez and Felipe set out from Yalambojoch on December 14, 2018. Felipe was healthy and in good spirits, recalled G\u00f3mez. The family had taken out a loan of 60,000 quetzales, or nearly $7,800, to pay for a smuggler.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EAfter five days of traveling through Mexico by bus, the father and son crossed the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, where Border Patrol apprehended them on the afternoon of December 18, according to a\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.dhs.gov\/news\/2018\/12\/25\/cbp-shares-additional-information-about-recent-passing-guatemalan-child\"\u003E\u00a0CBP statement\u003C\/a\u003E. \u201cMy son was very calm when immigration caught us \u2014 very calm,\u201d said G\u00f3mez.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EG\u00f3mez remembers being in at least four different cells while in detention. All of them were cold. The pair were given just mylar blankets to keep warm. He remembers Felipe refused to eat the burritos they were served and would only eat the fruit given to them. He said he was never asked if he wanted a translator for his native language, Chuj.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA newly released affidavit states that G\u00f3mez said Felipe was eating well, and would even try to get in line twice to receive an extra meal.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cSince I\u2019m older, I can handle hunger,\u201d said G\u00f3mez. \u201cBut with my son, who knows if that\u2019s why he died?\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EGetting sick\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAccording to the CBP\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.dhs.gov\/news\/2018\/12\/25\/cbp-shares-additional-information-about-recent-passing-guatemalan-child\"\u003Estatement\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0released after Felipe\u2019s death, a processing agent \u201cnoticed that the child was coughing and appeared to have glossy eyes\u201d around 9 a.m. on December 24.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EG\u00f3mez told me that his son woke up around 3 a.m on December 24, complaining of stomach pains. The pain persisted and around 8 a.m, G\u00f3mez tried to alert the agents. They paid him no mind, possibly because of a language barrier. \u201cI\u2019m not going to excuse them for that,\u201d he said. Finally, one Spanish-speaking agent responded to G\u00f3mez\u2019s concerns and told him that he would take him and his son to the hospital.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe newly released\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.americanoversight.org\/document\/cbp-documents-regarding-roxsana-hernandez-and-felipe-gomez-alonzo\"\u003Edocuments\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0obtained by American Oversight corroborate G\u00f3mez\u2019s account, stating that it was G\u00f3mez who advised the Border Patrol officer around 8 a.m. that his son was sick with a fever.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe father and son were then transported to the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, where Felipe was seen by a doctor who said he had a cold, according to the CBP statement issued shortly after his death. Felipe was cleared for release with\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.dhs.gov\/news\/2018\/12\/25\/guatemalan-national-passes-away-gerald-champion-regional-medical-center-alamogordo\"\u003E\u00a0prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen\u003C\/a\u003E, the statement says. G\u00f3mez said that he did not speak directly to the doctor because of a language barrier. \u201cThey didn\u2019t ask me anything and I didn\u2019t talk to them,\u201d he said. CBP records confirm this.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFelipe and G\u00f3mez returned to the Border Patrol station without medicine, said G\u00f3mez. The affidavit says that the Border Patrol officers bought the prescriptions with their own money and administered the medicine to Felipe around 6 p.m. G\u00f3mez remembers that the agents arrived with some kind of liquid medicine around that time, but he did not know what medicine it was.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA toxicology report shows that Felipe had 100 mL of diphenhydramine in his bloodstream, which is an antihistamine often found in Benadryl. This medicine is sometimes prescribed to treat symptoms of the flu, like congestion, according to Carlos Guti\u00e9rrez, a doctor based in El Paso who often provides volunteer care for migrant children released from U.S. custody. The report did not find traces of amoxicillin or ibuprofen, but these medicines tend to leave the bloodstream within a few hours, he said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ECBP\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.cbp.gov\/sites\/default\/files\/assets\/documents\/2020-Feb\/cbp-teds-policy-october2015.pdf\"\u003Eprotocol\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0as of 2015, and still current, states that migrants in custody should self-administer their own prescribed medication, unless the migrant needs help because of age or disability. It does not specify how prescriptions are bought or who is responsible for paying.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOften, \u201cit\u2019s up to the agents if they want to chip in [to buy the medicine],\u201d said Guti\u00e9rrez, based on his contact with migrants released from custody. Since CBP facilities are meant to be temporary pending transfer to a permanent facility, until recently, they had \u201cno medical screening or care capability,\u201d according to a November 2019\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.dhs.gov\/sites\/default\/files\/publications\/fccp_final_report_1.pdf\"\u003Ereport\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0by the Homeland Security Advisory Council.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAfter taking the medicine, Felipe complained of pains in his stomach and his chest, according to the affidavit. G\u00f3mez alerted the agents. \u201cI can no longer stand it. I think I\u2019m going to die,\u201d the 8-year-old told his father, according to the affidavit. G\u00f3mez does not recall this statement.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn transit to the hospital Felipe became unresponsive, according to the affidavit. When they arrived, Felipe was rushed inside. About an hour later, a doctor told G\u00f3mez that his son had died of an unknown cause. An autopsy later revealed that Felipe died of complications of an influenza B infection and sepsis.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAccording to an agent\u2019s note in the affidavit, Felipe\u2019s father G\u00f3mez \u201cdid not blame anyone\u201d for his son\u2019s death because the Border Patrol agents did \u201ceverything possible for his son.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBut G\u00f3mez disputes saying this. \u201cThat was the great error that they committed,\u201d G\u00f3mez told me. \u201cBecause there was never a moment when I sat with them and I told them how I felt about how they attended me.\u201d He did express gratitude for the help of one Spanish-speaking agent who was more attentive to him and his son than other agents. It was the same agent who took them to the hospital.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=5184&ImageHeight=3456&ImageId=34016\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Felipe's bike is one of the only toys that his family still has. Now, his younger brothers ride it around their home in Yalambojoch.\u00a0\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EFelipe's bike is one of the only toys that his family still has. Now, his younger brothers ride it around their home in Yalambojoch.\u00a0\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EImproved Medical Care?\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAfter Felipe\u2019s death, the Trump administration promised to improve care for migrants in its custody, particularly children. DHS ordered\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.dhs.gov\/news\/2018\/12\/26\/secretary-kirstjen-m-nielsen-statement-passing-eight-year-old-guatemalan-child\"\u003Emore thorough medical checks\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0for minors in its custody. CBP published a new\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.cbp.gov\/sites\/default\/files\/assets\/documents\/2019-Dec\/CBP_Final_Medical_Directive_123019.pdf\"\u003E\u00a0medical directive\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0in December 2019 mandating more resources for medical care.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EDr. Guti\u00e9rrez is suspicious as to what these changes mean in practice. \u201cIt's just poor medical care, if they even get any medical care,\u201d he said.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENow, as the coronavirus spreads through detention centers, the risks posed by the rapidly spreading pandemic have once again shined a spotlight on the unsanitary, cramped conditions for migrants in U.S. custody.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cIt\u2019s very difficult to control the spread of influenza in detention centers. It\u2019s even more difficult to control the spread of COVID,\u201d said Alia Sunderji, a pediatric emergency physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was among a group of doctors who penned a\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/games-cdn.washingtonpost.com\/notes\/prod\/default\/documents\/32e1590e-f161-42fa-b5c0-2c680eb975ad\/note\/9fabfc6a-5b17-4cc3-85f2-7835d3bf720e.pdf#page=1\"\u003Eletter\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0to Congress in August 2019 warning of the spread of influenza and other infectious diseases among children in detention along with recommendations to improve care.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESince Felipe\u2019s death, the problems regarding migrant children\u2019s health have shifted as Trump administration policies \u2014 implemented both before and during the coronavirus \u2014 have worsened conditions.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESince January 2019, the U.S. has sent more than 60,000 asylum seekers to await their court dates in dangerous Mexican border cities where they are vulnerable to kidnappings, robberies, and other violence. There, they live in unsanitary conditions in makeshift camps or cramped shelters.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThen, in August 2019, the Trump administration moved to end the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which sets out standards for care of migrant children in U.S. custody, including a\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.latimes.com\/california\/story\/2019-10-15\/cbp-migrants-detention-lawyer-flores-settlement-agreement\"\u003E\u00a072-hour limit\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0for children in CBP facilities. Felipe was in CBP care at least double the time limit, one of many documented violations of the Flores agreement. Immigrant advocates say ending these protections would have devastating \u2014 and potentially deadly \u2014 consequences for migrant children.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENow, citing public health concerns, the U.S. is rapidly expelling migrants who cross the border in disregard of due process or the international principle of non-refoulement. Since the order in March\u00a0 more than\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.cbsnews.com\/news\/us-ramps-up-mass-expulsions-migrants-border-crossings-rise-coronavirus-restrictions\/\"\u003E43,000 migrants have been expelled\u003C\/a\u003E. At least\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.cbsnews.com\/news\/unaccompanied-migrant-children-trump-expulsion-border-policy\/\"\u003E900 were minors\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0and legal rights groups have challenged the expulsions in court for\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.aclu.org\/press-releases\/groups-file-challenge-trump-administrations-illegal-border-expulsions\"\u003Eviolating due process\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAs of early June, more than 120 minors were in ICE custody. A judge\u00a0\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.buzzfeednews.com\/article\/adolfoflores\/judge-orders-immigrant-children-released-over-covid-fears\"\u003Eordered them released\u003C\/a\u003E\u00a0by July 17 because of the risk of contracting the coronavirus in these facilities, but they now face possible separation from their mothers, with whom they are currently detained.\u00a0\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThese policies have created a situation in which many \u201cinvisible children\u201d are at risk in Mexican border cities or after deportation, said Dr. Sunderji. \u201cThose are the children we\u2019ll never hear about when they die,\u201d she said. \u201cWhat happens to them? Who is responsible for their deaths?\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EMoving On\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn January 2019, G\u00f3mez was released from U.S. custody and went to live with friends in Nashville. \u201cI\u2019m grateful they let me stay here,\u201d he said of the decision to release him while his immigration case is ongoing. Before the coronavirus hit, he dedicated most nights to cleaning restaurants to pay off his $7,000 debt to a smuggler.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn January of this year, finally debt free, he started sending money to his struggling family in Guatemala. But, as restaurants closed under a stay-at-home order, he lost work in\u00a0 March. In recent weeks, he has begun working part-time, but is struggling to pay his rent.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EG\u00f3mez\u2019s immigration case is still pending and he worries sharing his version of events could negatively affect his case. \u201cWhat happens if they [U.S. immigration officials] get mad and report me?\u201d said G\u00f3mez. But he wants his story heard.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EA lawyer is investigating Felipe\u2019s case, but G\u00f3mez said he has not been in touch with him recently and does not know the status of that case.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EG\u00f3mez holds out hope that his wife and kids will be able to reunite with him legally in the U.S. some day down the line. He wouldn\u2019t dare pay a coyote to bring them because of the risks. \u201cIt\u2019s better to wait,\u201d he said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=4088&ImageHeight=2865&ImageId=34018\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Felipe's brother and his old bike.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EFelipe's brother and his old bike.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAs coronavirus restrictions have slowly lifted,\u00a0 G\u00f3mez is back to sweeping the floor or wiping down tables in Nashville. He may never know exactly what happened to Felipe. But he has to keep healthy and keep working\u2014he has a wife and three other kids to keep alive.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThis investigation is part of Reporting the Border, a project of the International Center for Journalists in partnership with the Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers\u003C\/p\u003E"}