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March rallying for children who died in ICE custody

December 27, 2018

HUNTINGTON - The final Third Thursday action of the year for Women’s March West Virginia-Huntington will center around the deaths of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, a Guatemalan girl who died Dec. 8 while in border patrol custody, and 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, a Guatemalan boy who died in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Christmas Eve.

“Justice for Jakelin” will be on the 5th Avenue side of the Cabell County Courthouse from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 27.

Mass detention of migrant toddlers, children and teens at the border, the increasing number of reports about freezing conditions in detention and failures to treat illnesses, and demands for $5 billion in taxpayer funds for border wall construction are among the issues to be addressed during Thursday’s action. A large sculpture designed by a local artist depicting children in detention will be on display during the event, according to a release.

“The recent tragic and senseless death of a young migrant at the border has called renewed attention to the humanitarian crisis being perpetrated by the Trump administration and their heartless policies,” said Barbara Garnett, Women’s March West Virginia-Huntington coordinator.

Garnett said she encouraged residents to register their objections to the administration’s current immigration policies by joining the Third Thursday action or by contacting West Virginia’s representatives.

U.S. immigration authorities said Wednesday that they have done new medical checks on nearly every child in Border Patrol custody after the second death of a child in the agency’s care in the span of less than three weeks.

Authorities did not disclose the results of the examinations.

Felipe died on Christmas Eve just before midnight. He had been in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection with his father since Dec. 18.

The boy suffered from a cough, “glossy eyes,” fever and vomiting and was hospitalized twice Monday with what was initially diagnosed as a cold, the agency said in a statement. The cause of death was under investigation.

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, said that almost all checks ordered in reaction to the boy’s death had been completed.

Some children detained in more remote areas were re-screened by emergency medical technicians or Border Patrol agents, officials said. In other places, some children were taken to medical facilities.

Homeland Security would not say how many children are in Border Patrol custody.

The department also wouldn’t say why Felipe and his father were detained for almost a week, an unusually long time, or why they were placed back in detention - at a Border Patrol highway checkpoint - after being released from the hospital.

Jakelin died Dec. 8 after she began vomiting. U.S. officials said she had walked for days in the desert without food or water, but her family disputed that.

Her death - which brought down heavy criticism on U.S. immigration authorities - is also under investigation.

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