An official from a Mexican shelter that housed Felipe Gómez Alonzo shortly before his arrival in the U.S. last month said the boy was not sick when he left the facility. “Felipe was here,” said Blanca Alicia Rivera, Casa del Migrante manager. “He was in perfect health condition.” But in U.S. custody, the boy was shuffled from cold facility to cold facility for six days, eventually getting seriously ill and dying at a New Mexico hospital. He was just 8 years old.
In a lie-laden tirade, Donald Trump blamed his political opponents and the boy’s father for the death, falsely claiming that Felipe and 7-year-old Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin, another Guatemalan child that became sick and died in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody that same month, “were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol.”
Lies, lies, lies. “[Rivera said] that not only does the shelter have doctors on call to screen immigrants who come to the shelter, ‘we won’t let them leave if they’re sick.’” A far cry from the practices of a federal immigration agency with an annual budget in the billions, given that CBP is only now deciding to conduct “secondary medical checks” on detained children.
With U.S. agents illegally blocking many asylum-seekers from presenting themselves at the border, which is a legal act under U.S. law, Mexican shelters like Casa del Migrante have had a surge in the number of people they take in nightly, Buzzfeed reports. “On Tuesday night, more than 270 men, women, and children stayed in the shelter, nearly double the number of people who typically stay each night.”
On the U.S. side of the border, a delegation of congressional Democrats recently visited the facility where Felipe was held before he died. They left with few answers to their many questions, but pledged to continue the investigation into his death in their oversight hearings. “’If you go into CBP processing centers or detention centers, no American would be proud of the way that we are treating’ migrants coming to U.S. southern border,” said Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair Joaquín Castro of Texas.