A 2-year-old boy from Guatemala died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas, this week over a month after being apprehended by US immigration authorities as he crossed the border with his mother, the Guatemalan Consulate said Thursday.
The boy, who was not identified and was not in US custody at the time of his death on Tuesday, had suffered from complications of pneumonia, Tekandi Paniagua, the Guatemalan consul general in Del Rio, Texas, told CNN.
The boy is the fourth child known to have died after journeying to the US in recent months from Guatemala, where poor economic conditions have driven record numbers of migrants to the US. The death was first reported by The Washington Post.
In April alone, the Border Patrol arrested 98,977 migrants for illegal entry, many of whom were families — an increase from the month before. Migrants from Central America often make the journey through Mexico under punishing conditions and with limited food and water.
Immigration officials have noted a recent increase in illnesses in migrants arriving in the US, and advocates have argued that conditions at US holding facilities can be unsafe.
The boy was encountered by Border Patrol agents on April 3 near the Paso Del Norte Bridge, which connects the border towns of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico and El Paso across the Rio Grande, according to a Customs and Border Protection official familiar with the case.
On April 6, the boy’s mother advised agents that her son was ill, according to the border protection official, and the child was transported that day to a hospital in Horizon City, Texas, by EMS.
Paniagua said the child was showing a high fever and had difficulty breathing. He was moved to another hospital in El Paso the next day, the border protection official said.
On April 8, the child and mother were provided an NTA, or “notice to appear” in court documents, the official said, and the family was released on their own recognizance at the hospital, meaning they were no longer in border patrol custody.