A two-year-old boy from Guatemala has died after being detained with his mother while crossing the border from Mexico into Texas, BuzzFeed reported on Wednesday. The boy was hospitalized in Texas for weeks before his death, Guatemalan consulate officials said.
The boy is the fourth migrant child from Guatemala to die in U.S. custody in the past six months. Just this month, a 16-year-old unaccompanied minor from Guatemala died after crossing the border.
Last month, Border Patrol detained 99,000 migrants who crossed into the U.S. outside of authorized border crossings, a figure that’s increased each month of 2019, according to BuzzFeed. To deal with the influx of migrants, the Trump administration confirmed on Wednesday they’d be building six new tent cities on the border.
Guatemalan General Consul Tekandi Paniagua told the site the boy was hospitalized for a month upon entering the states. He was apparently suffering from pneumonia.
The boy was taken to the hospital on April 6 after his mother alerted authorities that he was sick, the Washington Post reported. He was transferred to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso, TX, the next day, and Border Patrol released the mother and child from custody on April 8. Paniagua told the paper the boy was only in U.S. custody for three days before he was hospitalized.
The Post also reported that mother and child crossed into the U.S. near the Paso del Norte International Bridge, where hundreds of migrants were reportedly held for days in a temporary holding pen without shelter or bedding. It’s unclear if the boy and his mother were housed in similar conditions.
Paniagua says the consulate is warning people against making the journey to the U.S.
“The journey to the United States and the conditions that Guatemalan families are facing on it is very dangerous,” Paniagua told BuzzFeed. “The children are the most vulnerable and we have seen four back-to-back cases of children who have lost their lives this way.”
In December, a 7-year-old migrant girl and 8-year-old boy died in separate incidents in U.S. custody after crossing the border. Earlier in May, a ten-month-old infant and several others died after a raft overturned while attempting to cross the Rio Grande into the country.