The father of the 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died in U.S. government custody says his son had shown no signs of illness before falling sick Monday, the same day he died.
That’s according to Oscar Padilla, the Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, who met Wednesday with Agustin Gomez, the father of Felipe Gomez Alonzo. Guatemalan officials have identified Felipe as the child who died on Christmas Eve.
Padilla says Agustin Gomez told him Felipe wasn’t sick when they were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border on Dec. 18 or in the five days to follow. Felipe was hospitalized Monday after a border agent noticed he was coughing. He was released from the hospital Monday afternoon, but taken back that night.
Gomez told the consul that he carried Felipe in his arms as they were taken to the hospital for the second and last time.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says she’s ordered “extraordinary protective measures” after the death of the 8-year-old Guatemalan boy.
Nielsen said in a statement Wednesday that she had asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate what she says is an “uptick in sick children crossing our borders.” She also wants the U.S. Coast Guard to examine the medical programs offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that detained the 8-year-old and his father for a week.
Nielsen also pledged that all children in the future will receive a “more thorough” medical screening after they are apprehended.